Sunday, June 11, 2006

The Omen - What's New?

I'm well past the age when - ridiculous as it might sound now - catching a film first-day-first-show was my ultimate aim. The movie buff in me still tries to catch most 'buzz' films in the very first weekend, but that's because I prefer watching films before their reviews are out, and I can be sure that my opinion is not clouded by what others have to say. I don't go out of my way for a matinee ticket on Day 1. But this flick was different. I certainly wanted to watch it on the first day. For the simple reason that it released on 6-6-6. Yes, you guessed it right: I'm talking about The Omen.

As luck would have it, I couldn't make it on Day 1, but I did catch it on Friday evening (sadly, the date wasn't the 13th).

I have nothing against remakes, but when I go to watch a remake of an old movie I expect something new - a reinterpretation of the original material. If it has to be same as the original, then why bother? When Sanjay Leela Bhansali makes his own version of Devdas I disagree with the purists because that was his unique interpretation of the story, vulgar and unjustifiably ostentatious though it was. Or for that matter, when Pradeep Sarkar makes his delightful interpretation of Parineeta, I am all for it. But if John Moore remakes The Omen, I have a problem.

The original The Omen (1976) ranks as my favorite horror film of all time, primarily because it was not like a run-of-the-mill horror film. There were no horrific faces, no scenes that would make your stomach churn, yet it was SCARY. The music, the mood, the plot, and of course the kid who played the part of Damien, made me really scared (probably my age at that time also had something to do with it). The remake - released on 6-6-6 - is an extremely faithful recreation of the original. This is precisely why I have a problem with the remake. If John Moore had nothing new to add by way of treatment (except for a hasty effort to relate to recent catastrophes), why couldn't he let the original be? The only reason I can see why the film was remade was to cash in on the release date. After all, we aren't going to see another 6-6-6 in our lifetime.

Before you get me wrong, let me clarify that I am not saying that the 2006 remake is a bad film. As I said, it's a fairly faithful remake. It captures the same mood of the original and does have a few scary bits, which did make me jump despite having watched the original a number of times. The acting is reasonably good (not outstanding though), John Moore's direction adequate, and the pacing in the script is just right for the subject. Yet, one expected something different, something unique, which unfortunately is missing.

There were a few things in the original that have always stayed with me. First, the Academy Award winning background score went a long way in creating a scary atmosphere in the original. Sadly the score in the remake pales in comparison. Then there are a couple of scenes, most of which have been faithfully recreated in the remake, but the decapitation scene, which was my favorite in the original, has been modified. It is effective, but it fails to evoke to same sense of shock and horror that the original did. Some people say that we should not compare remakes with the originals. I agree, but in this case the remake is so much like the original that one can't help but compare.

While The Omen (2006) is a fairly well-made movie, it falls way below my expectations. I would rather watch the original again.