(director/writer: Arkasha Stevenson; screenwriters: Keith Thomas, Tim Smith; cinematographer: Aaron Morton; editors: Bob Marawski, Amy E. Duddleston; music: Mark Korven; cast: Nell Tiger Free (Margaret), Tawfeek Barhorn (Father Gabriel), Sonia Braga (Sister Silvia), Ralph Ineson (Father Brennan), Bill Nighy (Cardinal Lawrence), Charles Dance (Father Harris), Andrea Arcangeli (Paolo), Ishtar Currie Wilson (Sister Anjelica), Maria Caballero (Luz Valez), Nicole Sorace (Carlita), Dora Romano (Sister Romano); Runtime: 119; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Keith Levine, David S. Goyer; 20th Century Studios; 2024)

“Unneeded prequel Omen movie.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

TV director Arkasha Stevenson, in her first feature film, directs the mainstream stylish horror prequel from the 1970s on the Antichrist, Damien. The unneeded prequel Omen movie (it began in 1976 (The Omen), Damien Omen II (1978), The Final Conflict Omen III (1981), The Omen (2006 released in theaters on 6-6-06). There was also the awful TV movie called The Awakening Omen IV (1991).

The First Omen is co-written by Stevenson with Keith Thomas and Tim Smith.

We’re back in Rome, in 1971, when the timid American virgin Margaret (Nell Tiger Free) answers her call to religious duty and arrives at the Vizzardeli Orphanage to be a novitiate. The orphanage is run by the convent’s sullen Sister Silvia (Sonia Braga) and the kind but untrustworthy Cardinal Lawrence (Bill Nighy).

Margaret protects a troubled teenage girl suffering from nightmares, Carlita (Nicole Sorace), and notices things are not right at the orphanage. In due time she discovers her superiors are evil –hiding dark secrets from the past and are plotting to “bring people back to the Church” by confronting them with the birth of the Antichrist in their hospital.

Charles Dance and Ralph Ineson play priests at the convent who try and help Margaret.

Though it’s respectful to the traditions of the Catholic Church, it still rips into its anti-abortion stance and other ill-advised practices that prevent women from having control over their bodies.

It leads to an ultra-bloody climax of the birth of the Antichrist. I’m not sure that’s worth waiting around for, but I’m sure the Catholic Church would never sanction such a far-out thing.