The First Omen takes a sacred step in the right direction

Thu. April 4, 2024 12:00 AM
by Jerry Nunn

There are multiple nuns in this prequel to The Omen franchise and this Nunn found it frightening. Following in the hallowed footsteps of The Nun and Immaculate while being a forerunner to an antichrist's journey, the prelude to The Omen doesn't pull any punches.

The First Omen returns to its roots in Rome as an American woman from Massachusetts begins her new life in a nunnery located in Italy. Are you there, God? It's her, Margaret who vows to help children at an orphanage to keep the faith.

She encounters a wild child named Carlita, portrayed by newcomer Nicole Sorace, who keeps things interesting in a world of peeling potatoes for dinner and bored smoking nuns. Her unpredictable roommate Luz also saves Margaret from her humdrum way of life in Europe while providing some excitement.

Sister Margarita has some bad habits to break and just can't live on bread and wine alone. She hits the disco wearing a sparkly dress with a plunging neckline accompanied by Luz sporting a drag wig and determined to have a good time out on the town. Before you can sing “Saturday Night Fever” she hooks up with a handsome devil at the club and then blacks out.

Margaret wakes up with a killer hangover the next day, but can't shirk her daily earthly duties to rest. Things spiral out of control as Margaret discovers all is not right within the Catholic church and her unique convent.

This nun's story grows even more ghastly and gruesome as it rolls out, then builds momentum like any good horror film.

English actress Nell Tiger Free as Margaret keeps the oppressive environment alive by displaying convincing emotions and real terror throughout. She carries much of the film on the back of her tunic and the supporting actors never wane from helping her convey it.

The handsome character of Paolo is played by Andrea Arcangeli who emotes about his love for Barbra Streisand to Margaret at the discotheque which is a clear signal that he's gay, but then surprisingly performs a straight man's dirty deeds to push the doomed agenda forward.

Sister Margarita has partaken a few too many cocktails and the audience is left in the dark as to what happens in her night of nun rebellion.

In case you haven't already, forget about the 2006 remake of The Omen or the 2016 Damien television series. The First Omen smartly chooses clever homages to Roman Polanski's 1968 Rosemary's Baby instead. Birthing the son of Satan is never an easy task as one can imagine and that's where the true horrors lie. There was some predictability due to knowing the material found in the original 1976 flick, but director Arkasha Stevenson takes this tale to some unexpected places.

Be aware that some graphic images and possibly upsetting scenes may invoke some holy rollers to grasp at their rosaries and crosses. Prepare for pop-out scares and payoffs for longtime fans of the prophetic franchise. The only thing missing was a demon Rottweiler, which is forgivable as an unpopular breed of dog that doesn't roam in Rome.

This precursor successfully fleshes out the storyline presented in Damien Thorn's life with unexpected results. There are several false endings towards the close of the production, but the dynamic and inventive cinematography make up for The First Omen's shortcomings.

The project could have easily gone off the rails and crashed into camp, but thank the Lord above it didn't. It's also thanks to a strong team dedicated to leaving some of the previous curses behind to create a fresh new story set in the past.

Splash some holy water on and head to your local cinematic temple, because It's 666s across the board for The First Omen and a soon-to-be legion of followers who will find communion in this diversion. Can I get an amen?

Seek The First Omen's revelations at the theater beginning on April 5, 2024.