The First Omen – Film Review

I want to start my article by discussing the detrimental cycle in which the film industry is currently trapped, as this cycle is causing significant harm to the industry and continuing to drive audiences away from cinemas. The industry is currently revolving around sequels, prequels, and spin-offs. This approach is openly supported by producers and companies. With seemingly guaranteed moneymakers, although their certainty is questionable, there is no need to generate new ideas. The ironic part is that films with original concepts, like “Barbarian” and “Smile,” achieve considerable box office success. Companies entrenched in this cycle believe they can succeed by repeatedly rehashing classic formulas, relying on flashy visuals and over-the-top performances. “The First Omen,” despite being a good film, is one of the components of this cycle.

The film’s plot is one of those ideas we’ve seen countless times. A woman decides to become a nun, joins an unfamiliar commune, and soon becomes pregnant with the Antichrist. Over time, she realizes the environment she’s in is dangerous, tries to escape, is forcibly restrained, and finds a solution in killing. The same story is told again and again without adding anything new. So much so that in the same year, “Immaculate,” starring Sydney Sweeney, was released with the exact same plot. Exactly the same! The only difference between the two films is the architecture of the commune and the actors. They keep offering the audience different shades of the same story. New is, unfortunately, a foreign concept now.

However, despite all my criticisms, “The First Omen” manages to please its audience by trying to do some things differently. Fundamentally, the entire story is exactly as I described above. However, the film’s realistic approach to events, and consequently to dialogues, and the main character’s reactions to her predicaments, distinguish it from other horror films. One of the most clichéd approaches in horror films is that the main characters continue their lives as if nothing has happened despite all the fantastical events. This is not the case for “The First Omen.” Margaret plays a character who does not mince words, is aware of the reality of the events, and tries to act accordingly but is obstructed. Unlike most characters in similar films who realize the truth at the end, she faces the realities midway through the film and adjusts her course accordingly.

However, what truly sets “The First Omen” apart from all its counterparts—and as I mentioned above, its only distinguishing feature—is its outstanding acting. Despite its worn-out, overused storyline, the sole reason I rate this film highly is Nell Tiger Free. And a slight nod to Ishtar Currie Wilson as well. One of the scenes frequently shared on film Twitter today is Isabelle Adjani’s famous possession scene in “Possession.” Adjani delivers such a performance that even after 40 years, it still gives you chills every time you watch it. I assert that 40 years from now, whatever platform we may be using then, everyone will be sharing Nell Tiger Free. Her childbirth scene after a car accident is so impactful that I fully understood the astonishment and admiration people felt when they first saw Adjani in cinemas. I was genuinely surprised to see that Myrcella, a sidelined character in “Game of Thrones,” is actually an extraordinarily good actress. Despite my constant criticism of the relentless marketing of the same stories, I could praise Nell Tiger Free’s performance for days. For this reason, I will be adding the film to my collection. Even as a devoted Sydney Sweeney fan, Nell Tiger Free’s Oscar-worthy performance made me forget about Sydney. Immaculate who? Although horror films are rarely taken seriously at the Academy Awards, unfortunately, Nell Tiger Free is, for me, one of next year’s contenders.

My critique is quite simple: even if you want to tell the same story, at least look at it from a different angle, offer a new perspective, add something new. From the very beginning, the film tries to capitalize on the past by using the same style of death scene found in the classic film. While they aim to win over the audience by appealing to their nostalgia, they end up providing a predictable story where the audience can guess what will happen next. Okay, the music is intensifying, something is about to fall on someone’s head. How thrilling! The interesting part is that despite all its predictability, “The First Omen” does not suffer from pacing issues. The reason, of course, is Nell Tiger Free. With her elegant presence in a long nun’s habit, her reactions to events, and her character’s proactive nature, she manages to captivate every second she is on screen, somehow keeping the story engaging.

Despite all my criticisms, “The First Omen” succeeded at the box office. Why? The greatest advantage of horror films is their low budgets. Thus, they manage to survive at the box office. On the other hand, high-budget films that adhere to my critiques end up moving from theaters to home cinemas within three weeks. Because people are genuinely tired. They are searching for something new. And unfortunately, this search is not being met.

In conclusion… Although “The First Omen” retells a familiar story, Nell Tiger Free’s spine-chilling performance will make it a collector’s item. I could have written this entire article just talking about Nell Tiger Free. I may have used her name more than “The First Omen” itself, which I had to mention for SEO purposes. Because the film is entirely about her. Her phenomenal performance, which will be remembered for 40 years, adds color to the otherwise stale, formulaic plot, making the film unforgettable. If you want to witness the birth of a new Isabelle Adjani phenomenon, “The First Omen” is a must-watch.

Cast & Crew

director: Arkasha Stevenson

writers: Tim Smith, Arkasha Stevenson, Keith Thomas (screenplay by) Ben Jacoby (story by) David Seltzer (based on characters created by) 

starring: Nell Tiger Free, Ralph Ineson, Ishtar Currie-Wilson, Mia McGovern Zaini  

USA | 2024 | 119 MINUTES |


Ukrainian Creative Director | Motion Picture Writer | Horror Freak

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