‘The First Omen’ Review: The Antichrist is Anticlimactic

Written by Matt Rodriguez

The First Omen has a crisis of faith. It’s a horror film that believes it is terrifying and yet struggles to scare up anything nightmare worthy. There is an interesting story idea about a woman who has sworn herself to God and the lengths the Church is willing to go in order to keep the faith, but it’s all surface level as the film forgoes any meaningful insight in favor of cheap and ineffective jump scares. The First Omen is stuck in the past, relying on the horrors and nostalgia of the original 1976 film to conjure up an antichrist that is anticlimactic.

Margaret Daino (Nell Tiger Free) has lived her whole life in devotion to the Catholic Church and travels from America to Rome to work in an orphanage before taking the veil and officially becoming a nun. While there, she meets a young orphan girl named Carlita (Nicole Sorace) who is not like the other children as she draws disturbing imagery and enjoys hurting others. Still, Margaret does her best to befriend Carlita and in doing so uncovers a devilish plot by those in charge to birth the antichrist into the world in order to sow fear among the masses and steer them towards the Church. With the help of the shunned Father Brennan (Ralph Ineson), Margaret vows to save Carlita from the terrible fate the nuns of the orphanage have planned for her. But as she digs deeper into the conspiracy, she discovers a truth that is far more sinister than anything she could have imagined.

20th Century already tried remaking the original The Omen back in 2006 to mixed results. Rather than continue from where that film left off, The First Omen aims to fill in the gaps leading up to the first film. The film already lessens any potential scares simply by being a prequel to the original. It’s all building up to and ending we already know that’s coming. And how it gets there isn’t all that terrifying to begin with. There is no tension in the story, and any twists can be seen coming from a mile away. All that’s left are your typical jump scares and bodily horror for fright. And the majority of those land with as much impact as thoughts and prayers do in the wake of a tragedy.

The First Omen attempts to craft a deep and complex story surrounding the birth of the antichrist and why the Church would want to bring forth the devil into the world. It’s another religious horror film with the context that its the holy ones who are truly the evil ones. The problem is that it doesn’t really do anything new or exciting with the genre and just relies on the same old horror tropes and scares. Loud bangs, hidden figures quickly appearing and disappearing, and contorting limbs and bodily horror are the film’s usual tricks of the trade. To be fair, the use of practical effects is quite effective and the best aspect of the film. Burns, blood, and broken bones are displayed in brutal detail. They’re more shocking than scary, however.

There’s a moment where Margaret becomes possessed of sorts and begins twitching and excreting all manner of fluids from every orifice. It’s a little unsettling at first, but the scene goes on and on for what feels like an eternity. There are only so many movements a person can do before it feels repetitive and almost comical. By the end of it I was nearly holding back laughter just waiting for it to end. Any fright that might have been starting to bubble up at the beginning was quickly erased, just as any shocking moments are quickly forgotten.

That’s the problem with The First Omen. There’s nothing memorable whatsoever about the horror film. It tries to illicit an emotional callback to the original but as a result finds itself stuck in the past. The horror genre has evolved so much over the years, but none of that is present in the film. The First Omen‘s tricks and scares aren’t enough to fool even the least faithful. The antichrist may be here, but The First Omen shows it’s not anything worth getting scared about.

  • The First Omen


The First Omen is stuck in the past, relying on the horrors and nostalgia of the original 1976 film to conjure up an antichrist that is anticlimactic.

About the author

Matt Rodriguez

Owner and Chief Editor of Shakefire.