Welcome to this blog of my film reviews. Some have been drafted carefully on paper, others I have sat and typed. I'm going to make it clear right now that I don't expect you to agree with my (re)views, or to like my style of writing. However, I want my views to be just out there and open, as a person who wishes to express himself from deep within. Feel free to comment and debate with me, but I do ask that you are civil and not harsh, as any comments which are basically swear words and insults will automatically be deleted. Also any text that is in orange (and often bold) is a Hyperlink to either a source, or a previous post for background reference.
Friday, 12 November 2010
When his newborn son dies US Ambassador Robert Thorn (Gregory Peck) is persuaded to adopt a newborn baby who's mother died in childbirth. Five years later, while living in Fulham, England, mysterious deaths and strange happenings begin, and with help from photogapher Keith Jennings (David Warner), Robert discovers that his adopted son Damien (Harvey Stephens) is in fact the Antichrist, son of Satan himself, come to cause death, destruction and misery on the Earth in human form.
The film is not you're typical monster horror, such as Dracula (1931) or Frankenstein (1931), nor is it a gore fest like My Bloody Valentine (1981) or Videodrome (1983), even though it has elements of both depicted low key. It is, in fact, both a psychological horror, like A Clockwork Orange (1971) or The Shining (1980), and a supernatural horror, like Poltergeist (1982) and Child's Play (1988). The psychological horror side comes from the fact that the psychology behind Damien is absolutely horrific and is enough to give grown men nightmares - it has apparently! The supernatural side comes from the fact we are talking about the devil here, the spawn of Satan himself. This isn't a human monster, and supernatural can cover almost anything that isn't human and can't be explained by science.
What makes this such a horrific and creepy film to watch is the fact it constantly makes you think that if/when the Antichrist comes in that human form he could have taken the form of something as small and innocent as a five-year-old child. Damien looks so innocent, with a chirpy, slightly chubby face, big brown eyes and curly hair, and once it has been established that he is the Antichrist, you will be on the edge of your seat, with a creeping sense of dread and nerves cutting through you like ice, as by the end he has become a truly creepy little boy. The final shot of the film is set at his parents' burial, and (breaking the fourth wall) he turns to look at the camera, with eyes full of cold malice, that had developed in the film's second half, and gives a smile to the camera - a smile that will send the shivers down your spine and make your blood run cold without fail.
If that wasn't creepy enough then the film's score serves to only make it more so, with an eerie soundtrack filled with violins and organs screeching, and causing the hairs on the back of the neck to stand on end. The foretelling of the Antichrist is from Revelation 13 in The New Testament, even foretelling of the 666 birthmark. As a Protestant I am not too full of worry about it, admittedly, as I know that God will conquer the devil, and if/when it does happen I will (hopefully) be long dead - due to the 666 I doubt it will happen before 2106, so if I am still alive I will be about to turn 114. However, no matter what your religious views are and no matter what your view concerning the existence of the devil, one thing can't be denied, and that is that this is a really effective and creepy horror film, and is very well made. Definetly not one to watch just before bed.
Stars: Harvey Stephens, Gregory Peck, David Warner, Billie Whitelaw, Lee Remick, Patrick Troughton, Martin Benson, Holly Palance.
Oscar: Best Original Score (Jerry Goldsmith).
Oscar nomination: Best Original Song (Ave Satani - Jerry Goldsmith).