Review Date: October 23, 2010
Released by: Fox
Release date: 9/5/2000
Region 1, NTSC
Widescreen 2.35:1 | 16x9: Yes
The biggest fault of Damien: Omen II
is that it refused to address Damien’s age and growth, instead settling into the same formula as it followed in the first movie. It was Satan that was doing most of the damage, with Damien once again just along for the ride and the occasional ominous glance. Ensuring age would certainly be addressed for the third and proper closure to the franchise, the filmmakers age Damien Thorn twenty years in the three year span from Omen II
to its sequel, The Final Conflict
. With future star Sam Neill in the role of Damien, could The Final Conflict
finally bring something new to the franchise for its final send off before the ill-advised Made-for-TV sequel ten years later?
, another beginning at an archeological dig. This one hits a little closer to home, though, as workers rummage through the ruins of the Chicago Thorn museum that burned to the ground at the end of Damien. In the rubble they find the sacred seven daggers that can kill the anti-Christ, which soon after fall into the hands of some auction-savvy Vatican priests. With Damien grown up now and head of Thorn Industries, they have much to fear since his power is greater than ever. Thanks to the moves overseas Damien’s disciples made during Omen II
, Thorn is now one of the biggest corporations in the world. Damien Thorn (Neill
) is such a powerful figure that after a little “accident” with the previous government official, he’s appointed by the president as the new Ambassador to Great Britain (the same position his “father” held in the first film). He also persuades the president to let him lead the youth as well, which gives him a chance to go all Children of the Corn and spread his devilish message to a new generation.
Unfortunately for Damien, there’s another generation of something else at play as well. The Second Coming of Christ is upon the world, signaled by the alignment of the stars in the Cassiopeia region of the sky. Damien only has a short few days before Christ will be born again. Fully aware of his powers (finally!), Damien takes no time in using them to convince the media, the government and children everywhere that his evil is not one to be feared, but instead a purity to aspire to. He strikes up a relationship with a top England reporter, Kate Reynolds (Lisa Harrow
) and her son Peter (Barnaby Holm
), who takes quite a liking to Damien. With the apparent birth of Christ on March 24, 1982, Damien’s powers start to weaken, so he must act fast to win the popular vote and somehow dispel his yang.
While Damien works with his followers to have every child born on the Second Coming to be killed (all by reported accidents), the priests themselves lead a counteractive vigilante mission. With the seven daggers of Megiddo in their possession, each priest vows to die for the cause of killing the anti-Christ. As both good and evil work in futility to dispel the other, it becomes clear that pure evil and pure goodness are going to have to fight face to face. Damien calls upon the Nazarene, and in the end, only one can remain to lead the people of Earth.
Now this is how you make a sequel! The Final Conflict
does just about everything right in building on franchise tropes and expectations and growing them to a newer, grander narrative. Damien is in full command of his power here, and it’s exciting to see him at the helm rather than the omnipotent hand of Satan. Of course, he still has his minions and another Rottweiler helps him do his bidding, but seeing Damien at the head of Thorn Industries and how he worked his rise to power makes for a thrilling way to move the story forward. Neill is perfectly cast, injecting a combination of winning charm and darker torment behind his suits and smiles. Jerry Goldsmith is back once more for the score, and like with the story, he expands on his earlier work to provide a fuller, more diverse piece. Some of those angelic compositions near the end are show stopping.
While the second film, as good as it was made, grew stale with its stakeless repetition of devilish mishaps, Omen III
centers itself on an epic story where there are plenty of consequences at stake. We knew all along that Damien would rise to power, but now that he’s got it, we don’t know whether he’ll get his ultimate goal of taking over the world. He has colleague entanglements, as he must kill the child of his assistant to rid the world of Christ, he has romantic complications with Kate, at one point disturbingly raping her in a bid to show how pain can be beautiful, and he ultimately has to face off against God himself. There’s a lot more dramatic material there than there ever was in the Final Destination
-like crux of the original two films. The vendetta the seven kamikaze priests vow against Damien also really puts the anti-Christ at risk, wherein the first two films his safety was always assured. Writer Andrew Birkin (most famous for his Peter Pan
writings, of which you can certainly see “lost boys” aspects here) does a wonderful job of putting it all out on the table(laying it all on the alter?) for one truly thrilling battle for the ages.
Not only is the story as sound as ever, but horror fans are really going to like the viciousness of the deaths throughout. With the seven vigilante monks going after Damien, and Damien himself killing off many others who stand in his way, the body count here is quite high, and like with the first two films, the producers don’t hold back in staging an elaborate death scene. Since this had the films of the slasher era to compete with, the brutality of the carnage has been upped once more, and some of the deaths are quiet unsettling. The most notable being when the ambassador ties tape around the door knobs in his office, linking it all to his shotgun trigger, so when his colleagues enter his brains get splattered all over the presidential crest. Another sees a woman burn her infant son with a hot iron, and we memorably see the charred remains of the baby’s face. One more, still, is when the first priest tries to kill Damien at a TV station, slipping up from the rafters and being dangled and burned in plastic as he melts in pain. The effects work is quite accomplished (done by A Clockwork Orange
makeup artist Freddie Williamson), matching the menace of the acts themselves. Even the events that aren’t gory still have a sinister quality to them, like when Damien, after killing an adversary at a fox hunt, rubs what he says to be “fox blood” on the face of a boy in initiation. With that and that uncomfortable rape scene, The Final Conflict
certainly doesn’t play it safe like a Hollywood movie should.
A riveting thriller, through and grue, The Final Conflict
certainly lives up to its title and offers Damien a fabulous final sendoff. The scope is so much larger than the first two films, and more than just a thriller it ends up becoming some grand theological statement of our times. It’s pretty ballsy for a horror sequel to depict Christ on screen, but this one goes one further and gives us an ending so grand and fitting that it looks cut from Ben-Hur
. As far as horror sequels go, the Omen III
is certainly upper echelon. It’s a shame it ended when it was just starting to hit its stride, but then again, given what would follow with the ill-advised fourth film, maybe they did good and quit while they were ahead. A must see!
, The Final Conflict
is a ten year old transfer, but still looks good considering the age. The framing of the scope image is better this time, with no bright edging like before. Colors again seem overly brown, and the overall image is a tad soft. That seems to have been a characteristic of early transfers up until around 2003 or so, before pure white was more of a focus rather than instilling films with earthy hues. The print has lights specks and aberrations peppered throughout. Black levels are pretty good, and while the transfer could definitely use an updating, the progressive image still does justice to the excellent cinematography on display throughout.
Again, like Damien
, a Dolby Surround 2.0 track is the only English track on this release. Like the previous film, Jerry Goldsmith’s lively score again gets extra life in the rears. Dialogue sounds a little better, but still fairly aged and flat. Sound effects are crisp enough and isolated, often expanded, like the score, into the back. Directionality again is not really there, but overall it’s still a big improvement over your standard mono track.
Like Omen II
, the only extra on this disc besides trailers for all three Omen
films is a feature-length commentary. This one is with Director Graham Baker. Without a moderator like on Damien
, there are several moments of blank space between comments, as Baker comes through as rather curt. He doesn’t have a lot to say regarding the actual production, talking more about the characters and their motivations or where locations were filmed. It’s a dry track and doesn’t offer near the dirt or intrigue that Harvey Bernhard’s commentary did for the second film. Skip it.
A thrilling, intelligent and shocking resolve to the Omen
trilogy (before it would be awoken for television ten years later with Omen IV: The Awakening
), The Final Conflict
is how you end a series. It avoids the repetition of the first sequel and instead focuses on growing the themes of the first film while exploring a larger, expanded narrative. It’s a lot more than a killer kid movie this time around, and the final resolve in front of a haloed Nazareth is about as epic as a horror film is ever likely to get. The image and sound transfers are ten years old now, but still are acceptable, if a tad underwhelming, today. The dry, spacey commentary is a bust, though. A must see for fans of the first film, or those looking for a mature, creative narrative with some real ghastly imagery. Fans should have no conflict in enjoying this one!
Movie - A-
Image Quality - B-
Sound - B
Supplements - C-
- Running time - 1 hour 48 minutes
- Rated R
- 1 Disc
- English Dolby Surround 2.0
- French mono
- English subtitles
- Spanish subtitles
- Commentary with Director Graham Baker
- Theatrical trailers