Continuing with my classic horror viewing, on Friday night I watched the 1976 version of The Omen.
As the use of silence in The Exorcist struck me, The Omen‘s defining feature was the claustrophobic nature of the shots. The director uses close ups in the best possible way, focusing on the actors’ eyes. We see shots of Mrs Baylock’s eyes filling the screen frequently, and of Thorn’s as well. The extremely tight shots create feelings of intimacy and heightened awareness, along with adding to the creeping despair.
There is also a building feeling of dread to the movie. The film’s tension rises slowly, increasing with the dawning realization of what is actually going on. By the film’s climax, I was shaking, looking to my friend and whispering “I’m scared.”
Richard Donner, the director, did a fantastic job of disorienting the viewer. At times, particularly the scene in the Italian graveyard, the viewer is distanced from the characters. We take on a bird’s eye view, on the same level as the Rottweilers. At points, we cannot see the dogs, but we hear them shuffling around us.
The Rottweiler that guarded Damien was incredibly disturbing. Part of the film’s strength lies in how it makes the ordinary extraordinarily frightening. The dog walks through the house in the film’s climax…we can hear it, we can see it, but there’s something about it that frightens us tremendously.
Happy Halloween everyone!