Review: “The First Omen” Births The Antichrist

Review: “The First Omen” Births The Antichrist

The miracle of life can be a messy business



A prequel to a classic horror film—one that has stood the test of time and continues to be regarded as a cult classic—in this landscape? The First Omen sought to do just that, serving as something of an origin story to Richard Donner’s The Omen (1976).


In case you need more context, The First Omen tell the story of a woman (who, surprise, wants to be a nun), who starts to question her own faith when she uncovers a conspiracy within a subunit of the Catholic Church. Turns out, humanity is on the road to neglecting their faith altogether, and the only answer is the birth of the antichrist—and this group is going to do whatever it takes for that to happen.



The film starts in 1971 as American Margaret (Nell Tiger Free) arrives in Rome to begin her life of religious service. Stationed at an orphanage for girls and surrounded by everything that Italy has to offer, Margaret is ready to give herself wholeheartedly.


Warning: Spoilers ahead.


But Luz (Maria Caballero), Margaret’s roommate, has plans for them before they take their vows. They need to enjoy themselves, and she suggests the two go out to a dance club. There, Margaret meets and shares a few drinks with Paolo (Andrea Arcangeli), and proceeds to black out. Margaret has no recollection of what happens.


Margaret takes to one of the orphaned girls in her care, Carlita (Nicole Sorace), who seems to be on the outskirts of her small community. Left alone by the other girls and picked on by the nuns who are supposed to take care of her, Carlita confides in Margaret; and Margaret does the same. But then Father Brennan (Ralph Ineson) warns Margaret to stay away from Carlita and not to trust anyone from the orphanage. He’s the one that tells her about Project Antichrist, that her colleagues are part of the group that believes the only way to turn people back to the Church is to make them see there is evil.


Review: "The First Omen" Births The Antichrist


Enough with the narrative—though if you’ve seen The Omen and the name Damian means anything to you, then you can probably guess what happens (or doesn’t happen). The First Omen is a prequel, after all.


Compared to its contemporaries, The First Omen is actually thought out. It doesn’t rely on the premise of the original material all that much. It has its own storyline, its own characters and it actually adds depth to the franchise. Nell Tiger Free is amazing in the film, offering both vulnerability and strength in one fell swoop (save for the inevitable awkward possession moment). She’s crazy one moment and completely stoic the next, balancing between what she thinks is happening in her head versus what she thinks her reality is.


Director Arkasha Stevenson is a clear student of the horror, refusing to fall back on the typical clichés of the genre. Yes, you get your jump scares and possession moments; but she highlights the story more than anything—and lets that instill its own type of fear in the film’s audience.


Review: "The First Omen" Births The Antichrist


If The First Omen is anything to go by, maybe there is still hope for remakes, prequels and sequels.


“The First Omen” is showing in theaters now.



Art Alexandra Lara

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