Wednesday, June 07, 2006

heed the omen

It was difficult to fit it in and nearly didn't happen at all, but the devil herself couldn't dissuade a determined Exorcist. I finally finished everything, the scheduled and the unscheduled, exited the parish council meeting at 8:50 and slunk away for the 9pm showing.

My namesake has returned.

I must preamble this by noting that there was a minor rush to the confessional on Monday (6.5.06) evening. Yes, four high school girls constitutes a 'rush' around here. And no, they weren't exactly sure what was supposed to go down on Tuesday. But they knew it was going to be bad. Beside, who am I to turn away eager clients?

The daily Mass crowd (hey, if four is a 'rush', eleven is so totally a 'crowd'...) expressed wonder that in Tuesday's mini-homily I stuck to the liturgy and didn't issue eschatological warnings.

Nope. While expectant mothers were either inducing or postponing labor to avoid the date and talkshows were queueing up the more loquacious elements of the Christian fringe, the Exorcist celebrated this fateful day in a mundane way. He treated himself to a movie.

The Omen (1976) was one of those movies that left a lasting impression on the Exorcist's fragile adolescent psyche. The remake was released on Tuesday, 6.6.06.

The Omen (2006) is very literally a remake of the original film. The plot, the dialogue, the insane supernatural silliness and the devilish mishaps triggered by the tyke with the blank stare are all faithful to their origin.

Mia Farrow out-creeps even Damien as the loony, spooky Mrs. Baylock. She is quite convincing in the role but, of course, she has dealt with problem children before.

The clergy in the movie is Catholic, naturally. I mean who else are you going to call with the anti-christ stirring things up? A Jehovah's Witness? The best you'll get out of him is a big "I told you so!!!".

Nuh-uh. No way. When there are apocalyptic threats afoot, homicidal nannies and rottweillers prowling around the cemetery you definitely want a Catholic priest.

This is, after all, what we do.

The portrayal of the clergy, in true Hollywood fashion, oscillates between ludicrous and horrific. It's the whacky satanic priests who switch kids to begin with, the pope is in bed with rosary beads and a glass of wine when he is told that the anti-christ survived the plot against his life (the Holy Father does not take the news well... he spills his wine), and the Grim Reaper could offer cosmetic tips to the monk found convalescing at the island monastery in Subiaco. Fr. Brennan is played by Pete Postlethwaite, a combination of Marty Feldman and Savonarola, and, hard as he tries to take Damien out, the rugrat from hell holds his own.

Now for what I didn't like about the movie.

I miss Gregory Peck.

Rachel Weisz was originally casted for the role of Katherine Thorn and would have offered mortal dread and subtle hysteria in place of Julia Stiles' anemic helplessness. Unfortunately, R.Weisz declined the role at the time because she was... expecting. Fate, it would seem, is not without a sense of irony.

The Exorcist would like to thank Damien, Mrs.Baylock, their snarling rottweilers and the dysfunctional clergy of Hollywood for an appropriately creepy 6.6.06.