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OMEN III: THE FINAL CONFLICT
1981
Written by Andrew Birkin and directed by Graham Baker
108 Minutes
Rated R

Omen III, for the better part of its running time, could've safely been called "Sam Neill vs. Baby Jesus," and I think I'd've been sold on that title. As someone who just enjoys watching Sam Neill in general, it's nice to see how well he fits the role of Damien; if nothing else, it seems like they paid an awful lot of attention to making sure the Damiens of each age matched up pretty well.

And what a Damien. Neill has always been a pretty solid actor in my book, and his turn here is another entertaining one. He has presence as Damien; the role fits him like a glove and he wears it well. He is charming, cunning, and...well...the antichrist.

But the problem is that the movie he's surrounded by lacks the fun, the zeal, and the verve of Damien: Omen II, along with the gruesome batshit funny mentality of the original The Omen. Omen III: The Final Conflict is by no means a terrible movie, but it focuses so heavily on the drama going on and the characters being developed that it pretty much hangs the more casual Omen fan out to dry, leaving us with only two really delightful kills.

The movie plays it too straight. Jerry Goldsmith's delightfully overwrought score is nowhere to be found here, the deaths that take place in the movie by and large aren't zany enough, and the behind-the-scenes machinations going on in Damien: Omen II are virtually nowhere to be found here.

One of the almost highlights of the film in terms of actual quality could've been Damien's relationship with reporter Kate Reynolds, but the problem is that it takes too long for the two to get together, and when they do it's the least logical time in the movie for them to do so. Kate's all "Well now that Father Such-and-such told me Damien's the antichrist and given me stacks of evidence, seems like a good time for me to trip and fall on his dick." I'm also pretty sure that if I was having sex with someone and they flipped me onto my chest and buttfucked me without provocation, my disposition toward them would be...a little sour.

The part of the plot that drives the film - the rebirth of Christ - sort of gets in the way of what might make the film interesting. We're here for Damien and interested in Damien, and a bunch of lame-ass priests who just happened to get their hands on the seven daggers needed to kill him just aren't interesting. Whenever Damien talks, we listen. When he postures, gives orders, brokers deals, that's when we're engaged. I mean I know someone had to thwart him in this movie, but these guys clearly suck at their job, and scenes involving them always grind the film to a screeching halt.

I hate that I'm even being thoughtful or authentically critical about a film where someone gets hit in the face with an iron (and it somehow miraculously kills him instantly) and a nurse stalks around the nursery ward of a hospital like the Predalien in Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem, but the problem is that the film invites it. It's so gravely, deathly serious, more so than its predecessors who at least had the decency to throw some random shit in the film to make sure we're awake (Lance Henriksen and a woman getting her eyes pecked out before getting clobbered by a mack truck). While I'll give credit where credit is due - the Omen movies are nothing if not creative and dedicated to their stories - the sense of fun is sadly lost in this film.

If you're actually interested in where the story that began in The Omen goes, Omen III: The Final Conflict can make for a fairly compelling film, at least largely on the back of Sam Neill. But if you're looking for that kind of campy, gaudy fun and the deathly seriousness punctuated by Jerry Goldsmith's hilarious score, you aren't going to find it here.

I do recommend Omen III: The Final Conflict on the basis of its ideas, which aren't totally without merit and are if nothing else at least a somewhat interesting way to close out the series, but that recommendation comes with the caveat that you watch it for its story and only its story.

And maybe to see a guy get eaten by dogs.

Okay, that was pretty cool.

- Dustin Sklavos

All written content and colored rating system copyright Dustin Sklavos 2009. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.