The First Omen

The First Omen
Original title:The First Omen
Director:Arkasha Stevenson
Running time:119 minutes
Release date:05 april 2024
After being sent to Rome to enter the service of the Church, a young American woman soon finds herself confronted by dark forces that lead her to question her own faith and lift the veil on a terrifying conspiracy that intends to give birth to the incarnation of Evil.

Mulder's Review

At a time when horror reboots and prequels often struggle to justify their existence, The First Omen appears not only as a narrative necessity, but also as a masterful reinvigoration of a franchise steeped in cinematic history. Directed with the eye of a visionary by Arkasha Stevenson and starring the luminous Nell Tiger Free, the film delves into the myth of the Antichrist's origins, creating a narrative that resonates with both the terrifying echoes of its predecessor and the nuanced investigations of modern horror.

The First Omen is the story of innocence confronted by unimaginable evil. Set against the backdrop of Rome in 1971 - a city depicted as a cauldron of social unrest and spiritual turmoil - the journey of Marguerite (Nell Tiger Free), a bright-eyed novice who becomes a central figure in a diabolical plot, is both heartbreaking and deeply captivating. The choice of setting is inspired, drawing on Rome's rich history and culture to amplify the story's thematic concerns of faith, power and corruption.

Nell Tiger Free's portrayal of Margaret is nothing short of prodigious. She embodies a complex range of emotions, from the purity of her initial faith to the horror of her discoveries and the strength that emerges in her struggle against the darkness. Her performance anchors the film, bringing a human heart to the supernatural thrills. Free brings a captivating vulnerability and resilience to the role, drawing the audience into Margaret's psychological and spiritual ordeal.

Arkasha Stevenson's direction deserves praise for meticulously crafting atmosphere and tension. Arkasha Stevenson understands the terror inherent in the clash between the sacred and the profane, and expertly navigates the film through a series of chilling set-pieces and moments of calm and dread. His Rome is a character in its own right, portrayed with a Gothic grandeur that serves as the perfect backdrop to the unfolding horror. The cinematography, marked by the use of light and shadow, reinforces the sinister atmosphere, turning the ancient city into a labyrinth of secrets and shadows where danger lurks around every corner.

The script, co-written by Arkasha Stevenson, Tim Smith and Keith Thomas, deftly blends elements from the original Omen films while introducing new perspectives and themes. The exploration of the corrupting influence of power within the Church and its impact on the vulnerable is both timely and timeless. The story's depth is enriched by its willingness to tackle complex questions about morality, faith and the nature of evil, elevating The First Omen above mere horror entertainment into a contemplative and unsettling examination of human and supernatural darkness.

The supporting cast, especially Bill Nighy and Sônia Braga, lends gravity and menace to the whole. Bill Nighy's Cardinal Lawrence is a study in ambiguity, his amiable exterior masking a ruthless heart. Sônia Braga, as the stern Sister Silvia, embodies the institutional authority and secrecy of the Church.

However, The First Omen is not without its faults. The film sometimes struggles under the weight of its own ambitions, with certain narrative threads feeling under-explored or sloppy. The challenge of balancing homage to the original Omen while charting a new narrative path is daunting, and while Arkasha Stevenson largely succeeds, there are moments when the film's pace suffers.

The First Omen is an undeniable success. It's not content to rest on the laurels of its celebrated franchise, but seeks to interrogate and develop its themes, setting the bar high for how horror reboots can honor their past while boldly venturing into new territory. The film leaves a lasting impression, not only for its visceral scares, but also for its haunting meditation on the nature of evil and the ongoing battle for humanity's soul. With The First Omen, Arkasha Stevenson and her team have crafted a horror film that resonates with the strength of its convictions, making it a worthy successor to the Omen legacy and a striking entry in the horror genre. What a pleasure to discover a gifted new director whose next film we can't wait to see.

The First Omen
Directed by Arkasha Stevenson
Screenplay by Tim Smith, Arkasha Stevenson, Keith Thomas
Story by Ben Jacoby
Based on Characters by David Seltzer
Produced by David S. Goyer, Keith Levine
Starring  Nell Tiger Free, Tawfeek Barhom, Sônia Braga, Ralph Ineson, Bill Nighy
Cinematography : Aaron Morton
Edited by Bob Murawski, Amy E. Duddleston
Music by Mark Korven
Production company : Phantom Four
Distributed by 20th Century Studios
Release date : April 5, 2024 (United States), April 10, 2024 (France)
Running time : 119 minutes

Seen April 5, 2024 at Gaumont Disney Village, Room 3 seat A19

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