At The Movies

The First Omen

Directors: Arkasha Stevenson
Starring: Nell Tiger Free, Ralph Ineson, Sonia Braga, Charles Dance, and more.

A young American woman is sent to Rome to begin a life of service to the church. Still, she encounters a darkness that causes her to question her faith and uncovers a terrifying conspiracy that hopes to bring about the birth of evil incarnate.

Arkasha Stevenson’s “The First Omen” boldly reimagines the sinister narrative of “The Omen” series, flipping the moral narrative with sharp wit and unsettling relevance. While lacking the lavish production of its predecessor, Stevenson compensates with a raw, visceral portrayal of the Catholic Church’s dark history of abuse and power. The film deftly explores themes of institutional corruption and patriarchal control, resonating deeply in today’s socio-political climate.

Nell Tiger Free delivers a haunting performance as Margaret, a young American nun-to-be in Italy, whose journey from empathy to terror mirrors the audience’s descent into dread. The narrative’s nods to “Rosemary’s Baby” are discernible, yet Stevenson injects a fresh, feminist perspective that challenges religious dogma and societal norms. While sometimes predictable, the film’s exploitation elements serve a greater purpose: to expose wounds of betrayal and defiance, tinged with hints of sisterhood and resistance.

“The First Omen” may not replicate the chilling elegance of its predecessor’s iconic scenes. Still, it trades spectacle for a poignant exploration of moral decay and the enduring struggle for redemption. Stevenson’s vision, though unsettling, harbors a glimmer of hope amid its dark, accusatory tones—a testament to cinema’s power to provoke and reflect on the darkest corners of the human condition. This one is not for the faint of heart but I highly recommend it for fans of horror films with religious tropes whether you’ve seen the original film or not.

Isabella Jordan