Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (July 24, 2019)
Although the ďslasherĒ genre spawned a slew of successful franchises, films about evil kids found it tougher to enjoy long-term popularity. Sure, 1973ís mega-hit The Exorcist managed to stretch to a few sequels, but none of them found much of an audience.
1976ís The Omen fared even worse. It generated two little-regarded sequels as well as a much-disliked 2006 remake.
Though I saw the 1976 original and the 2006 edition, I never took in the sequels. It looks like time to rectify that with a screening of 1978ís Damien: Omen II.
In the first film, we learned that young Damien appeared to be the literal spawn of Satan. Now 13 years old, Damien (Jonathan Scott-Taylor) lives with relatives outside Chicago.
Damien resides with uncle Richard (William Holden) and aunt Ann (Lee Grant) because his parents died years earlier due to Damienís evil nature. Older and wiser, Damien starts to grow into his powers and become a threat that Richard needs to stop.
As I indicated in that review, I felt the original Omen seemed fairly mediocre. I thought the film occasionally sparked to life but it lacked the real horror I anticipated.
I wonít claim that the original Omen looks like genius compared to Damien, but the 1976 film definitely holds up better. Largely silly and pointless, the sequel lacks much reason to exist.
Beyond money, of course, as it seems clear that Damien found a way to cinemas solely as a potential cash cow. That said, I think a sequel made sense in this case, as the 1976 movie ended on a cliffhanger of sorts, so it seems logical to see how Damienís evil progresses.
Couldnít the producers come up with a more compelling tale than this, though? A story about an adolescent anti-Christ opens up to all sorts of possibilities, but the producers seemed determined to follow as banal a path as possible.
This means a dull story about Richardís business and Damienís potential ascension that lacks even the most rudimentary dramatic value. Though a subplot traces how advocates tutor Damien, the end result seems more like a series of boardroom discussions than a taut thriller.
On the sporadic occasions when the movie attempts horror, its execution falters. Should we feel frightened by a scene in which a crow lands outside a bedroom and an old lady keels over?
I guess so, but we donít, and other ďscare scenesĒ feel even sillier. Overacting and goofy cinematic touches defuse any potential horror and bring us a dopey affair.
Even a scene in which we see Damienís preternatural abilities in a duel with a teacher feel more like demonic Rain Man than something truly frightening, and the film wastes a reasonably good cast.
Actually, as Damien himself, Scott-Taylor acquits himself fairly well, as he avoids the urge to overplay his part. The adults show no such restraint and tend to chow on scenery.
Stuck in a dull affair, I guess the actors felt desperate to enliven the proceedings. They canít, so Damien winds up as a sluggish, scare-free tale.