Film Review: Damien: Omen II (1978)

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FILE PHOTO: A Poster of DAMIEN: OMEN II (1978). ©20th Century Studios

The Omen franchise had started from 1976 and continued until 2016. It made 5 films and 2 TV series totally. David Seltzer created the novel and wrote the screenplay for the first successful horror master piece. The Omen (1976) was and still is the most horrifying cinematic story and screenplay. The story telling itself is organic with its content and forms. A perfect example. Thus, it is a real classic, master piece of horror film and genre film in general. This article is for reevaluating the failure of the sequel.


Damien: Omen II (1978) is about good versus evil in Christian religious context. The main conflict is survival of the antichrist Damien (Jonathan Scott-Taylor) in the ruling class family the Thorns. Family members of Thorns and their relatives who find the true identity of Damien are eliminated one by one by raven, ghoulish accidents and curse of Damien himself.


In its story structure, this sequel does not accumulate the suspense like the first one. Audience get dull and boring about the ''ritually'' repeated murder scenes among archaeologist Carl Bugenhagen (Leo McKern), his friend Michael Morgan (Ian Hendry), industrialist/ protagoist Richard Thorn (William Holden)'s Marion (Sylvia Sidney), journalist Joan Hart (Elizabeth Shepherd), Thorn Industries' senior manager Bill Atherton (Lew Ayres), Dr. David Pasarian (Allan Arbus), a doctor (Meshach Taylor), Damien's cousin Mark (Lucas Donat) and curator of the Thorn Museum, Dr. Charles Warren (Nicholas Pryor). The first one is rising conflict structure but this one is horizontal imposition of serial murder plots without accumulation of suspense and inner relationships among them.


ACT1 is established by Bugenhagen sequence in Israel. ACT 2 is a buffet of ghoulish murder actions , and the mid point is when the protagonist Richard Thorn decides to go to New York for confirmation of Damien's real identity. In ACT 2, Richard insists to see the mural of Yigael's Wall and refuses listening to any warning from the sub characters. The military school and Thorn factory are less important that they are actually unnecessary. A critically important plot point to create the death of Thorn's child Mark is his eavesdropping on the secret conversation between Richard and Charles at Thorn house. It reveals the truth for him.


The most of ACT 2 is unnecessary and should be shortened. However lack of plot points is unsolved by editing itself if there are fatal script flaws. This film can only be improved more smoothly by cutting off many shots of military school and the factory matters.


After the critical point, the sequel gets momentum. Death of Mark, Richard sees the wall and decides to solve the antichrist Damien. This should be originally the course from mid point toward ACT3.


The sequel has its positive and surprising plot twists. One is the failure of Bugenhagen and Michael to follow Robert Thorn; the other one is Ann Thorn's ''sleeper'' role at the end. Both plot twists are intelligently created but they also decreased the suspense and sustainability of drama within the not uprising conflict structure of this film.


Damien: Omen II (1978) is a failure and inferior one however we can learn why the sequel is failed. The story structure itself is doomed for this result. The omen is the failure of Bugenhagen sequence. When we lose him at the beginning of the film, the film itself is also out of momentum. Our expectation is not satisfied by this murder. It disconnected the first film visually.


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Any part of this report may be disseminated without permission, provided attribution to the professional film writer Ryota Nakanishi as author and a link to www.ryotanakanishi.com is provided.

This film article is for educational purpose only.




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