While this flick didn’t start the whole evil children genre, it was probably the inspiration for all the evil kids we did see in the ‘80s. Sure Bloody Birthday and Children of Corn tried to be terrifying. But honestly could they compete with the son of the devil himself?
Robert (Gregory Peck) and Katherine Thorn (Lee Remick) are the proud parents of little Damien (Harvey Stephens). The dark haired child is adored by all that meet him, especially his first nanny who hangs herself yelling to the adoring birthday crowd “It’s all for you Damien”. Well sure that’s kind of creepy, but good help is hard to find.
But then all kinds of strange things begin to happen around Damien. Animals fear him. He can’t stop screaming when brought in sight of a church. Then there's the little issue of people dying when they find out too much about him. Suspicion drives Robert to join forces with a wild eyed priest (Patrick Troughton) and a journist with some of the worst hair of the 1970s (David Warner) to determine if his child really is the antichrist.
- Director Richard Donner builds the story and tension really well
- The cast is going for it with all their might
- Jerry Goldsmith’s musical score is a classic
- Tends to push things just a bit over the top
- Folks with no fear of the devil will find the whole thing silly
- Folks who hate evil kid movies will hate this one
Yes, it goes a bit over the top, and I end up chuckling a bit at some of the histrionics, but all told, this is an entertaining horror film. Donner creates a creepy atmosphere and allows it to sink in. With Goldsmith’s score picking up the slack, the movie has some good scares in it and plenty of creepy moments. Fun viewing for the Halloween season.
Scores (out of 5)