The student news site of St. Louis Park High School

The Echo

The student news site of St. Louis Park High School

The Echo

The student news site of St. Louis Park High School

The Echo

‘The First Omen:’ an omen to terror

A new prequel to the franchise
Fair use from 20th Century Studios

20th Century Studios’ new movie “The First Omen” was released on April 3 as a prequel to the 1976 horror classic, “The Omen.” It was directed by Arkasha Stevenson and stars Nell Tiger Free. The movie gives us a wonderful backstory to the original, which tells the story of a family unknowingly raising the Antichrist.

The film takes place six years before “The Omen” in 1971. The story follows a young woman, named Margaret Daino (Nell Tiger Free), who moves to Rome to become a nun at an orphanage. However, upon her arrival, Margaret uncovers alarming church practices and devilish conspiracies to bring about the birth of evil incarnate.

The lead, Margaret, is exceptionally well written and adds a lot to the story. She is a bright young girl who’s full of hope. She believes in the church, but has witnessed its wrongdoings as well due to growing up in a Catholic orphanage. She struggles between her faith and doubt, the goodness of God and the evils she sees among the clergy members. Margaret’s battle with her faith adds interesting internal conflict among the plot that makes her such a compelling character. In addition, her troubled childhood at a Catholic orphanage has left her with a deep emotional connection to the orphans in the movie. As a result, when unfortunate events occur in the lives of these children, viewers see a range of heartfelt emotions from Margaret. Seeing these emotions makes her an incredibly empathetic character and makes the audience very invested in her. We also learn that Margaret had hallucinations as a child, which, because the movie is told from her perspective, blurs the line of reality at times and adds a layer of uncertainty and suspense to the story. It also causes the audience to not entirely trust Maragaret, which helps keep the tension. I quite liked that element. I really loved Margaret’s character and the writers did an amazing job with her.

Nell Tiger Free gives a very emotional performance as Margaret. She beautifully acts every side of her character — her vulnerability, her strength, her pain and her terror. Watching Free on screen is a captivating experience that draws you in and leaves you feeling deeply moved. It’s a testament to her talent as an actress that she can deliver such a powerful performance with such depth. The filmmakers made a wonderful choice casting Free and I cannot commend them more.

There is a large cast with many side characters, but most of the film focuses on Margaret and her journey. However, two of the side characters do stand out among the rest, those being Carlita Skianna (Nicole Sorace) and Father Brennan (Ralph Ineson). Carlita is a young teen girl at the orphanage that inexplicably gets into a lot of trouble. Margaret sees a lot of herself in Carlita and bonds with her. Sorace does a splendid job acting Carlita. She strikingly shows the character’s agony and confusion as a young girl — as a girl who has grown up in a corrupt system and has been mistreated time and time again. Her acting is effective and, as an audience member, you can feel her pain. On top of that, because of how close Margaret is to Carlita, Carlita’s pain deeply affects Margaret and adds to her performance. The choice to add Carlita in was a great one and deeply benefits the movie.

The other important side character is Father Brennan. His character is generally well acted and he is generally well written. He does a lot to further the plot and assists Margaret many times throughout the movie. But the main reason he is so important is because he also shows up in the original “The Omen,” just played by Ralph Ineson instead of the original actor. “The First Omen” does a lot to explain his actions and his motives in the original movie. It gives him a background and answers many questions I had about him in the original, which I appreciated. The filmmakers did a very good job making Ineson look like Father Brennan in the original, just slightly younger. Ralph Ineson also does a very good job acting like the original Father Brennan, but a little more naive to match his younger age.

The setting was absolutely gorgeous. The film was shot on location in Rome, so the entire movie uses the breathtakingly beautiful Roman architecture in the backgrounds. Many shots also include stunning artwork such as white marble sculptures and Renaissance paintings, which adds so much aesthetic value to the film.

The cinematography is beautiful, not only because it showcases the stunning backgrounds, but because of how it adds to the film. The use of lighting and camera angles adds another layer of depth to the film. The use of warm lighting adds a romantic look to the scenes, which makes the violence and horror taking place look almost surreal. Furthermore, they often use close-up shots of the characters’ faces, which accentuates their emotions. This technique is especially impactful in the characters’ moments of pain. It allows the audience to truly feel their pain along with them and makes the movie much more emotionally effective. The cinematographer, Aaron Morton’s, work only adds to the actors’ performances. He did a wonderful job.

The special effects department provided gruesome gore. They used entirely practical effects, which were extremely high quality. They looked sickeningly real — from blood, to third degree burns, to flesh being ripped open. The effects are appalling, but wonderfully done and the special effects department truly showed their talent.

The plot throughout the entire movie is very strong. It’s an interesting tale of corruption and conspiracies in the church and how it affects a young nun. It dives into the satanic and supernatural and how it’s used to target individuals. The film focuses a lot on the psychological aspect of these things, especially on the paranoia it causes. These details all add amazing tension. The ending is exceptionally well done. The climax is utterly shocking and horrific, but is perfect for the story. It puts you into the perspective of Margaret. You experience all of her intense terror and agony. I couldn’t ask for a better ending. It exquisitely wrapped up the story. In addition, the movie provides so much backstory to the original “The Omen.” It explains the reasons behind the events of the original, a few characters and acts as a perfect setup for the events that follow.

Overall, I thought “The First Omen” was extremely good. It had wonderfully written characters, moving performances, was a gorgeous film and acts as a perfect prequel to “The Omen.” It was a very effective psychological religious horror. I’d highly recommend giving it a watch.

“The First Omen”: ★★★★☆

Leave a Comment
More to Discover
About the Contributor
Rackam Walberg
Rackam Walberg, Echo Staffer
 Hi, my name is Rackam Walberg. I am a sophomore and this is my first year in Echo. Other than writing and photography, I love to draw and read. I also enjoy hiking, listening to music, and watching horror movies. I’m really excited to be in Echo this year!

Comments (0)

The Echo intends for this area to be used to foster healthy, thought-provoking discussion. Comments are expected to adhere to our standards and to be respectful and constructive. Furthermore, we do not permit any of the following inappropriate content including: Libel or defamatory statements, any copyrighted, trademarked or intellectual property of others, the use of profanity and foul language or personal attacks. All comments are reviewed and approved by staff to ensure that they meet these standards. The Echo does not allow anonymous comments, and requires a name and valid email address submitted that are variable. This email address will not be displayed but will be used to confirm your comments. Online comments that are found in violation of these policies will be removed as quickly as possible. Please direct any further questions to [email protected].
All The Echo Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *