Damien: Omen II (1978)
Starring: William Holden, Jonathan Scott-Taylor, Lance Henriksen
“For such are false apostles. Deceitful workers whom lie and transform themselves to look like real apostles of Christ.” (Corinthians 11:13)
When you’ve already revealed in the original film that the main character is the Antichrist, how do you deliver a similar revelation in the sequel? Simple – make it so the nasty little bugger in question doesn’t know it yet.
That’s the premise in Damien: Omen II, which is set seven years after the events of its predecessor. Now 13 years old and living with his uncle and aunt, Damien has been protected from the past and as such doesn’t know what happened to his mother and father in the events of the first movie. He’s just a normal, cheery boy who happens to be part of the wealthy Thorn family.
It’s only when he goes to military camp with his cousin and starts hurting a bully by simply staring at him that Damien begins to notice something out of the ordinary is happening. Others – including his sergeant (the awesome Lance Henriksen) and the vice-president of Thorn Industries – seem to know who Damien really is, and are keen to help him discover his true identity.
Meanwhile, as in the original film, anyone who suspects Damien’s secret and tries to put a stop to it inevitably meet their fate in all manner of horrific ways. Trucks, trains, elevators… they’re all involved in some of the gruesome deaths this time around.
Indeed, Omen II feels a bit like an attempt to recreate much of what made the original film so memorable. There are the nasty deaths, the doom-and-gloom “he will destroy us all” people who are shunned by Damien’s uncle, the eventual realisation that it’s true and the subsequent attempt to stop him – all of which feel very similar to events in The Omen. There’s even an evil animal in there, though it’s a raven this time instead of the first film’s dogs.
While it doesn’t quite have the same storytelling flair, chilling moments and impressive cast as the original film (Henriksen aside), Omen II is still a decent little film. The acting’s solid enough for the most part – although the young chap playing Damien is irritating for the first 20 minutes – the story moves along at a fair pace and there’s a reasonably satisfying conclusion to the whole thing.
It just feels at times a bit like The Omen Lite, an attempt to replicate the impact of the original but one that cuts out vital ingredients in doing so. There’s no equivalent of the first movie’s mental Mrs Baylock to keep viewers on their toes, there’s no big shock as to the lead character’s secret identity because we already had that shock in the previous film, and – ironically – since the ‘smears on photos predicting deaths’ idea from its predecessor is no longer here, there isn’t actually an omen to speak of either.
That said, it’s still an interesting follow-up to the original film, and one that provides a decent midway point between The Omen and the significantly different The Omen III: The Final Conflict. Just don’t go rushing out to see it if you haven’t seen the original first.