When a young American woman is dispatched to Rome to embark on a life devoted to serving the Catholic Church she encounters a malevolent force that prompts her to question her own beliefs. Unveiling a chilling conspiracy aimed at ushering in the birth of pure evil, she soon finds herself grappling with profound existential doubts and utter terror.

Sound familiar? Remarkably, this isn’t the plot of the recently acclaimed horror film Immaculate starring Sidney Sweeney, which has garnered immense praise from horror enthusiasts and is poised to join the ranks of cult classics. Instead, it serves as the premise for the latest installment in the long-standing Omen franchise, set for release a mere two weeks after Sweeney’s film.

Directed by Arkasha Stevenson and based on a story by screenwriter Ben Jacoby, The First Omen serves as a direct prequel to Richard Donner and David Seltzer’s 1976 film and is the sixth instalment in the franchise. In this film, Nell Tiger Free, known for her role in M. Night Shyamalan’s acclaimed Apple TV series “Servant,” portrays Margaret Daino, a young nun caught in a storm of superstition and manipulation orchestrated by a fanatical Catholic group.

While it might be tempting to focus solely on the Armageddon/Deep Impact twin titles dynamic here, it’s important to point out that despite their almost identical premise, these are two very different movies. While it’s true that Immaculate has emerged as the bolder of the two titles, there is still a lot to enjoy about its more mainstream counterpart.

One of the film’s greatest strengths lies in Nell Tiger Free’s casting in the principal role. The up-and-coming actor delivers a tour de force in a role that demands a great deal from her physically and in which she emerges as an impressive new talent.

There’s also a terrific performance by legendary Brazilian actor Sonia Braga as the creepy Sister Silvia, the Abbess of Vizzardeli Orphanage in Rome, which is more than worth the entry fee. Elsewhere, Bill Nighy delivers a scenery-chewing turn as the deeply sinister Cardinal Lawrence, a senior member of the Catholic church.

Elevated by Aaron Morton’s jaw-droppingly precise cinematography and a suitably ominous score courtesy of Mark Korven, The First Omen does exactly what is expected in terms of scares, and dare I say, manages to be both creepier and more coherent than its more recent predecessors. Impressive all around despite the unfortunate thunder-stealing it’s been subjected to.

The First Omen
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Linda Marric
Linda Marric is a senior film critic and the newly appointed Reviews Editor for HeyUGuys. She has written extensively about film and TV over the last decade. After graduating with a degree in Film Studies from King's College London, she has worked in post-production on a number of film projects and other film related roles. She has a huge passion for intelligent Scifi movies and is never put off by the prospect of a romantic comedy. Favourite movie: Brazil.
the-first-omen-reviewElevated by a remarkable lead performance from Nell Tiger Free, "The First Omen" does what is expected in terms of scares, and manages to be both creepier and more coherent than its more recent predecessors.