Why The First Omen Succeeded Where Others Failed

In a world of legacy entries failing, The First Omen came along and proved how to bring a franchise back correctly.

Last Updated on April 25, 2024

The First Omen

Last week, we saw the release of The First Omen, which was universally praised. I agree with Chris Bumbray’s review where he said it was “quite provocative, with several images, including a gruesome birthing scene, pushing the limits of the R-rating in a way I didn’t expect from a movie bankrolled by Disney.” And what I was personally most impressed with is how much it creates its own identity. Because if there’s one thing horror franchises have had an issue with, it’s carving its own path.

I still remember when the first trailer came out, and I was shocked to see the response. I felt the teaser was really cool and a unique way to present a film, as each shot was presented in reverse. So, I didn’t understand the hate that was thrown at it. But thinking about it more, I realized it really felt like an audience was reacting to the idea of another legacy sequel. Burned one too many times, and it was finally catching up. What The First Omen manages to do, however, is go back to the simpler days when the main point wasn’t connections to past films but to actually create a good film in and of itself.

These legacy films are often constantly winking at the audience and trying to get those gasp moments for cameos, so the story gets lost. The biggest example is that of The Exorcist: Believer, where all of the Legacy elements were the worst parts of the film. That film was so disliked that Universal put the sequel on hold so that they could figure out what to do with it. Hopefully, they will use The First Omen as a guide because that film managed to do nearly everything right.

****light spoilers ahead for The First Omen****

First, there’s Nell Tiger Free, who gives an absolute star-making performance as Margaret. She manages to be vulnerable while still pulling from an intense inner strength. The birth scene is a masterclass in acting as the camera refuses to break from Nell’s incredible performance. She can say so much with so little that it makes the director’s job a cakewalk. Put her in a frame and let her do her business, and you’ll likely get gold. And her paranoia parallels that of Peck’s Robert Thorn. The chaos that surrounds her is inescapable

I also loved how there were no pains to bring back actors who clearly don’t want to be there or have aged out of it. The character of Father Brennan exists in the original Omen and is played by Patrick Troughton. In First Omen, he’s played by Ralph Ineson, and there’s no real effort to make them the same physically. Even the accents are different. These small things allow the film to really live in its own world for new viewers while still showing hardcore fans that it’s the same world as the original franchise. There’s no homework needed to enjoy this individual experience. You’re simply rewarded if you do know the original franchise.

And yes, there are other connections to the original film, yet they make sense. We aren’t being given some Grand Moff Tarkin CGI recreation of Gregory Peck. Instead, it’s a simple photo to show that this is connected to the 1976 film. So if anyone is intrigued, they can move onto those films, but they aren’t required to see them to enjoy this one. It’s this balance that is key. The fact that it’s a prequel certainly does help. And the film being nearly 50 years old also doesn’t hurt.

There was an obvious setup for a sequel that I sincerely hope we get. Because this has proven that they’re more concerned about making a good individual movie than nostalgia-baiting for an audience from decades prior. And I think that’s the key to a successful franchise continuation. The First Omen simply followed the blueprint set up from the original film, with the birth of the antichrist and all of the chaos surrounding it. And sometimes, that’s all you need.

What do you think? Did The First Omen break the current legacy film curse? Is there much hope for other franchises? Make sure to let us know below! (And don’t forget to go and rate The First Omen here)

About the Author

208 Articles Published

Tyler Nichols is a horror fanatic who resides in Michigan and is always on the hunt for the next great film. When not scouring the internet for movie news, he is usually off watching something dark, writing nonsensical musings, or playing in some fantastical video game world. While horror takes up most of his time, he still makes time for films of all types, with a certain affinity for the strange and unusual. He’s also an expert on all things Comic Book Cinema. In addition to reviews and interviews here on JoBlo.com, Tyler also helps with JoBlo Horror Originals where he’s constantly trying to convince viewers to give lesser-known horror films a chance.