And so it was written, that a beast would come in the form of film, and that film would beget others due to profit, and those films would spread across the horror landscape to mostly whispered calls of, “meh”. Not for this little demon, however; as all of The Omen films work for me in one way or another (It’s what happens when you sign your name in blood, I guess), bringing us to number four and the first for the small screen, Omen IV: The Awakening (1991). The script gets flipped, yet it’s more of the same, and I’m not complaining.
Originally broadcast as part of the Fox Night at the Movies, Omen IV was trounced by ABC’ MacGyver on one side, CBS’ Murphy Brown/Designing Women on the other, and NBC’s Fresh Prince/Blossom on the other other. And as expected, no sins lain upon the critics were forgiven. This thing got roasted on the coals of Hell itself.
Let’s open our Satanic Bible/TV Guide and see what the devil has in store for us:
OMEN IV: THE AWAKENING (Monday, 8pm, Fox)
The ominous legacy of Damien Thorn rises as a mysterious and evil child may lead the way to a new apocalypse. Faye Grant, Michael Woods star.
We open up on an orphanage, where Sister Yvonne (Megan Leitch – The Resurrected) makes a phone call to Karen and Gene York (Grant and Woods), congratulating them as an orphaned baby girl has come along to light up their lives. As the York’s leave with their new baby girl Delia, Sister Yvonne runs crying into the arms of Sister Francesca (Joy Coghill – Poltergeist: The Legacy). Is Yvonne just sad to see the baby go, or is there trouble in Nuntown?
Let’s go with trouble; Delia (Asia Vieira – A Home at the End of the World), now eight, is a regular little devil as she spits on adults, beats a classmate with his own lunchbox, and is generally disagreeable towards her mom (but not her dad). When new age nanny Jo (Ann Hearn – Mirror Mirror)comes on the scene, she immediately senses something wrong with Delia’s chakra, or juju, or aura and calls in her psychic friend Noah (Jim Byrnes – Highlander), culminating in a visit to a psychic fair where Delia basically sets everything on fire. Knowing that things aren’t right on the home front, Karen enlists the aide of Earl (Michael Lerner – Strange Invaders), an ex-cop turned P.I., to find out who Delia’s real parents are. Meanwhile, Karen has another surprise thrust upon her – she’s pregnant. Yay! Delia’s going to be a big sister! Wait, this could be bad news…
Omen IV: The Awakening is the sequel that no one was really waiting for; The Final Conflict (1981) didn’t burn up the box office, and besides, Damien was pretty much vanquished by J.C. himself at the end. So why continue? Well, original producer Harvey Bernhard thought he could do a series of TV films to further the story; except no one watched it so this is what we’re left with until the remake in 2006. And while it’s the mangy runt of the litter, it’s still good unwholesome fun.
Not straying too far from the template, Bernhard and writer Brian Taggert (Of Unknown Origin) mirror the original and then go off in some interesting ways; in addition to switching our antagonist’s sex, our nanny is good (until a bad one is brought in later to little effect), and there’s more than a tinge of Rosemary’s Baby (1968) on hand as well. The interesting new touches include the reveal of Delia’s parentage (I mean, I’m sure you can figure out who the dad is), and the involvement of Lerner in essentially the David Warner role. Lerner is so good here it would have been nice if he had a bigger role; alas, this is an Omen flick, so you really can’t depend on anyone to stick around no matter how much you like them.
While directors Jorge Montesi (Friday the 13th: The Series) and Dominique Othenin-Girard (Halloween 5) have the challenge of making this claptrap seem spooky, they at least make it look good; polished in that slick, early 90’s way, it’s restrained by network standards but they do get away with a cool decapitation and a fairly bloody stabbing. On the small screen, you take what you can get. As for their work with the actors, well they’re clearly left on their own; the ones you expect solid performances from deliver, and the rest fill the vacuous, blank slate proffered up by daytime TV.
But let’s face it, you’re either in for a bloody penny or a pound when it comes to this series; the material is never less than ridiculous no matter the budget or talent on display. Yes, the quality varies, but I’m always in for evil imps, be they high class in England or setting fires at a psychic fair. The Devil’s none too choosy and neither am I.