Damien: Omen II (1978) is a horror/thriller film, it is a sequel to The Omen, set seven years after it.
Directed by Don Taylor (The Final Countdown (1980), Escape from the Planet of the Apes (1971)).
Written by Stanley Mann (Conan the Destroyer (1984), The Mouse That Roared (1959)) and Mike Hodges (Get Carter (1971), Pulp (1972)).
Starring: William Holden, Lee Grant, Jonathan Scott-Taylor, Lance Henriksen, Robert Foxworth, Nicholas Pryor, Lucas Donat and others.
They know how to make us remember the first movie. We start with the over-the-top score blasting, we’re on a beautiful location and you think that this might be more of the same arguably good movie.
Seven years have passed between the first movie and this, so Damien isn’t just a grumpy tyke. Now he’s a frustrated teenager, living with his adoptive family and trying to act as a real boy. You’re not fooling anyone, Pinocchio. Ok, actually Damien is fooling everyone, except his aunt, who’s making a fuss about it, so she’s put down by the dark forces. With dark forces I mean a crow looking at her ominously.
Damien goes to some kind of military academy with his cousin/brother. There they meet a new platoon officer played by Lance Henriksen. He doesn’t get to do much with the role, but it’s at least nice to see him. Later on he informs Damien of his destiny.
Jonathan Scott-Taylor plays Damien quite well, both managing to make him intimidating and tragically frustrated. He really doesn’t seem to have a solid understanding of his abilities for most of the movie and acts evil more instinctly than consciously. When Damien realises his purpose in life, he is quite distraught and it makes you feel sympathetic. I wouldn’t really want to find out I am the antichrist, seems like a lot of responsibility.
If someone is closing in on Damien’s dirty little secret, they can expect a visit from the friendly neighbourhood hell-crow pretty soon. But don’t let the death of suspicious aunt fool you. He doesn’t just stare at everyone. As we learn from his next attack, he’s going to actively try to harm you, leaving his staring contests exclusively for old ladies.
The crow-attack effects are quite well done, it’s no Birdemic: Shock and Terror, though. The problem is that after a nicely done crow pecking a woman’s eyes out, we see her walk in front of a truck only for us to behold something that suspiciously looks like a „love-doll” dressed in her coat, get run over. It seriously looks like a student film special effect.
Soon another problem becomes apparent with the crow attacks, but actually concerns the movie as a whole. It takes a step back from developing characters and moving the plot along and 40 minutes in, it’s still not clear if the movie is building up to something or are we just going to watch various novelty deaths of people who don’t like Damien, most of the time involving the goddamn crow.
Don’t get me wrong, some of the set-pieces are really cool, like one, that takes place on a frozen lake, but there comes a point, when new characters keep being introduced, just to be killed a couple of minutes later. The movie seems to be just a bunch of death scenes, somehow stringed together by the actual plot.
Yes, the first one had death scenes, but they were inventive, but sparse and mostly happened to characters I cared about. Not to mention that The Omen was a far more intelligent movie, that actually played on the psychological terror, while this is a B-grade exploitation version of the first film, relying on cheap set-ups and impactless pay-offs, pretending to have more substance than it actually does. Also it seems to abandon some of the more interesting ideas of the first one.
Overall, it’s not awful, but it tries to replicate the first one without really understanding what made it good. Using a shitload of death scenes as a safety net. Not recommended.