The first time I ever watched this movie was with a group of friends in high school. I believe I had made them watch Sleepaway Camp shortly before this, so they were clearly all in my debt. I was allowed to pick out the next “horror” movie to watch, and needless to say, we were all bored to tears. I think most of us got distracted and played with cool things in my room, randomly checking in to see if there were boobs or blood showing up on-screen, and we were continually let down. My first viewing was clearly just an example of watching a film at the wrong place, at the wrong time. It was years before I watched it again, only to realize how good it was, and even then, I don’t think I quite enjoyed it as much as the most recent viewing. Rampaige had never seen it before, but she loves demons and devils, so we gave it a shot…with the assistance of Netflix Instant Watch, of course!
Not a big shocker that she quit. Word on the street was that her job was already…hanging by a thread…
On the 6th hour of the 6th day of the 6th month, the child of Robert and Katherine Thorn (played by Gregory Peck and Lee Remick, respectively) dies during childbirth. Before Katherine is notified, a priest tells Robert of a child who was born in the very same hospital, whose mother died during childbirth. He is offered to take this child home and care for it as his own, and the priest recommends never informing Katherine of the switch. Robert accepts the child as his own, and the next five years is a blur. Damien Thorn, played by Harvey Stephens, seems to be a perfectly normal boy. Strange events start to unfold following his birthday, which was interrupted by his nanny hanging herself outside of the house, an event witnessed by everyone at the party. A different priest starts alluding to Robert that he knows about the switch, and that his family is in danger. After agreeing to meet the priest and being given mysterious details about the apocalypse, and that Damien will be the one bringing it about, the priest is killed by a metal rod that falls from a church.
“The mystery! I’ve solved it! I’M…HOLDING…A…PHOTOGRAPH! I thought it was just a tiny, two dimensional person this whole time!”
Robert refuses to accept what is going on, until he finds out that Katherine is once again pregnant. The priest had predicted this, and also predicted that Damien would complicate the pregnancy. Robert starts to believe when he has to go to the hospital after Damien rides his tricycle too close to Katherine, causing her to fall two stories, and having the pregnancy terminated due to the injuries. A photographer contacts Robert and shows him photos that seemed to have predicted the deaths of the nanny, as well as the priest. Trying to investigate anyone who knows where Damien came from, Robert and the photographer find that Robert’s actual child was murdered in an attempt to get Damien into a different family. Robert is finally able to contact people who he believes know how to be rid of Damien, the supposed son of the Devil, once and for all, and is left with no other options. While attempting to kill Damien, he is gunned down by the police, and Damien survives, attends his fathers funeral, looks at the camera, and smiles.
I would put this film in the “Unholy Trinity” category, along with The Exorcist and Rosemary’s Baby. These three films all involve the Devil and possession, just slightly different stages. This film specifically might as well have been a sequel to Rosemary’s Baby, because we now see the son of Satan slightly older. The power behind these three films is the fact that they show so little, yet cause so much fear. This film had four deaths, with really only one (a be-heading due to glass) being exceptionally graphic. The film scares you because of what it is alluding to, rather than just showing you. It makes you feel as though it’s a relatively coincidental chain of events that show us that yes, the Devil is real, and yes, his son has made it to Earth.
There’s nothing wrong with two men holding each other in a graveyard. I do it nightly, in my bed, with multiple men.
Another reason why any of these films work well, is because they are shot/acted/directed/scored like any other dramatic movie is, it just so happens that the subject matter is a little more supernatural. Most movies made within the past decade or two rely too much on letting you know it’s a scary movie, with jump cuts and building up tension with music, because they want you to jump more than they want you to actually be scared. Horror movies these days are viewed as a ride, an experience that last 90 minutes. That isn’t to say that these movies “ride” movies can’t be done well, it’s just nothing like some of these older films. The most recent film that comes to mind that terrified you without ever making you jump would probably be Se7en. Granted, I probably can’t remember another movie that would also be a good example, but that movie was brilliantly cast/directed/shot/edited the way any dramatic movie would be, but the subject matter was far more gruesome. Sure, there was some gore, but there was what, one on-screen death? Everything else was just after the fact. I wish more people could successfully make films like those, because those are the ones that stand the test of time, whereas there will always be a film that can make you jump a little bit more often or a little bit higher than whatever came before it.
Wolfman Moon Scale