Spring Cleaning: Damien: Omen II

Damien: Omen II - Courtesy Hulu
Damien: Omen II - Courtesy Hulu /

Prior to watching and reviewing The First Omen, the prequel to the stellar 1976 film about the anti-Christ, I brushed up on the franchise, revisiting the original film and its sequel, 1978's Damien: The Omen II. I wasn't surprised how much I recalled about that first film. Some of its death scenes are some of the most iconic in 1970s horror. However, I remembered very little about its sequel, other than the actor who played Damien, Jonathan Scott-Taylor, and his English accent. As far as religious horror goes, The Omen II really isn't a bad sequel. No, it's not as great as the first film, but it has plenty of memorable moments and notable kills. It's a coming of age story....about the anti-Christ.

The story picks up seven years after the events of the first film. Damien now lives with his Aunt Ann (Lee Grant) and Uncle Richard (William Holden). These family members are no substitute for Gregory Peck's role as Damien's father in the first film, but these characters are still serviceable regardless. Damien spends much of the film in military school and has a close relationship with his cousin, Mark (Lucas Donat). In fact, other than a few of the murders, it's really this friendship that anchors the film and gives it heft. This relationship grows more complicated once Damien learns that he's the anti-Christ. How can he maintain a human friendship, even with his cousin? This film deserves credit for the way it explores that very complicated relationship between the two boys. Damien wants to be Mark's friend, but it's just not in the cards.

Meanwhile, Sylvia Sidney's rather over-the-top performance as Aunt Marion is another standout. She warns Ann and Richard over and over again to keep Mark away from Damien. She knows something's not right with that boy. They should have listened to her. Like the first film, anyone who gets in Damien's way and tries to stop his ascent as the anti-Christ is killed. You know something bad is about to go down when that crow shows up in the frame.

Though the kills don't quite match the "It's all for you, Damien" moment of the first film, they're still impressive. In fact, one familiar face is buried alive in the opening minutes after uncovering a prophecy about Damien. There's also a grisly elevator scene and few other less memorable murders. Oh, and Damien can harm people just by looking at them. In fact, he does this with one of the bullies at military school. These scenes didn't age all that well, but they do show Damien's growing power.

So much of this film falls on Scott-Taylor's shoulders, and for the most part, he succeeds, especially when he showcases Damien's struggles with the fact that he's the anti-Christ. On the one hand, the king of evil wants to maintain friendships with boys his age, like Mark. On the other hand, by the film's conclusion, he understands and accepts his role in the end times. Scott-Taylor got his start in theater, including a 1973 musical rendition of Treasure Island, so he can certainly act. it shows during some of Damien's most human moments and internal struggles.

Treasure Island
Treasure Island / Hulton Deutsch/GettyImages

None of the characters surrounding Damien, other than Mark, feel all that memorable, at least in comparison to the first film. Even those who serve to protect Damien aren't all that threatening. Still, this film has a decent script and a solid story about a 13-year-old forced to accept a role that he didn't choose. It's an interesting premise that's generally executed well.

Other than The First Omen, I'm of the mind that Damien: The Omen II is really the only other solid entry into The Omen franchise. We get to see Damien as a teen, coming into his own, causing mayhem of Biblical proportions at a military school. He can even torture people just by looking at them. It's a decent successor to the classic 1976 film.

The Omen franchise is currently streaming on Hulu.

Review: The First Omen. dark. Next. The First Omen Review