It’s the ending that makes The Omen memorable
I’m such a sucker for good movie endings. And with “good” I don’t mean “happy”. I’m perfectly fine with movies that end in ambiguous or even dark and miserable way, or I even prefer them. They often resonate as more honest and believable than some cheesy, too-eager-to-please fantasy where everything eventually turns out to the best.
Happiness is overrated as long as it comes to movies. What I want from an ending is that it stays true to the story and that it’s properly paced, with a distinct idea and final beat, like in a classical symphony. Above all it should be memorable.
I believe the ending is so important that it can change my entire appreciation of a movie. It doesn’t matter how good your movie is if you drop the ball towards the end. It’s the ball drop that will stay with me. And equally a movie that was a bit underwhelming can be saved to a higher rating if the finish is perfect.
Watching The Omen
Recently I watched The Omen for the first time in my life, for no particular reason apart from that we had it in a shelf and it seemed like a movie I should have seen.
I have to admit that I wasn’t as sold on the film as I watched it as I maybe should have been, considering it’s regarded as one of the horror classics. I just didn’t get as scared as I had expected.
One reason for this is probably the circumstances around my watching. Horror and comedy are best watched in company with others in a theatre, where you can feed on each other’s laughter or cries of fear. Watching it on a small screen at home, taking little breaks now and then to go and grab some coffee or answer a phone call makes it a lot less immersive.
Another reason was that I don’t automatically freak out because someone in a movie is supposed to be The Devil himself. The sadistic officer in Pan’s Labyrinth is far scarier than any demon you could imagine. Not to speak of the compulsive mentioning of the number 666, in my view just a number, carrying no more meaning than 182 or 789.
The final shot
It would have been a pretty average horror film, well made, but not all that memorable in my view, if it wasn’t for the last few minutes, culminating in the final shot. We see someone turning around, giving a look into the camera and then smiling, ever so briefly.
Finally I could let go of my skepticism. I shivered. As you should when you’re watching horror movies. It had been a long wait, but when I finally got there, it was worth it.
The Omen (Richard Donner, UK, 1976) My rating: 4/5