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The First Omen Has Screened, And People Are Saying The Same Thing About The Upcoming Horror Prequel

 The First Omen.
The First Omen.

It’s been nearly 50 years since audiences were first introduced to The Omen franchise and the boy who would become the Antichrist, Damian Thorne. Now, director Arkasha Stevenson is taking us back even further with the upcoming horror movie The First Omen, which will explore the conspiracy that brought about the birth of the evil child. People have screened the movie ahead of its April 5 theatrical release, and the first reactions are mostly saying the same thing. They're promising a “beautiful nightmare” and one particularly hard-to-shake scene.

The First Omen trailer builds an air of dread, as it shows Margaret Daino (Nell Tiger Free) traveling to Rome to begin a life of service. That's when she discovers bizarre events happening at the church orphanage. Don’t be concerned by the preview’s lack of jump scares, Shannon McGrew says on X (or Twitter), because the movie will push you to your limit. She writes:

The First Omen f*cks harder than I could have ever imagined. Vicious and unforgiven, Arkasha Stevenson has crafted a beautiful nightmare that will push you to your limit. Nell Tiger Free also gives one of my favorite performances of the year.

There's a lot of love for Nell Tiger Free in people’s initial assessments, with many noting they are excited to see her follow up the Apple TV+ series Servant with an equally impressive performance. Angel Melanson of Fangoria writes that she was so disturbed by The First Omen that she needed some help falling asleep. Melanson says:

I’m not ashamed to admit The First Omen horrified me to the point that I had to come home and fall asleep watching cartoons. Arkasha Stevenson has crafted a beautiful nightmare and we need more Nell Tiger Free in everything, please.

Sarah Musnicky calls the cinematography “to die for,” as it weaves symbolism throughout the movie. She praises the cast overall, which also includes Bill Nighy as a senior member of the Catholic church, but agrees with the above movie lovers that the lead actress shines. Musnicky says:

The entire cast is wholly committed here, but Nell Tiger Free commands the screen. The physicality she taps into in THE FIRST OMEN is visceral. What is most damning - for better or worse - is how timely and timeless the overarching motivation is here for the horror.

Anthony of The Movie Podcast also lauds the lead actress, as well as the director for her bold choices. For those familiar with the 1976 original, The First Omen does a good job of capturing that same vibe, the critic says, writing:

The First Omen is UTTERLY CHILLING, faithfully capturing the essence of the original while infusing it with shocking & disturbing scenes that will leave you on edge! Nell Tiger Free's performance is truly terrifying, & Stevenson takes bold risks, crafting a PURELY SINISTER horror.

Kate Erbland of IndieWire prepared for the film by taking a look back at the other movies in the series, and she says this is proof that a good prequel can be done. Arkasha Stevenson’s project not only honors the original work but brings a fresh perspective to the franchise. Erbland says:

I spent all weekend in OMEN land — original trilogy watch, plus this one — and am happy to report how refreshing it is to see a prequel to a classic horror series that makes sense, respects the lore and vibe, AND does daring and scary new stuff in the process.

No horror movie is complete without some unexpected moments, right? A few of the moviegoers seem to think there’s one particular scene that everybody’s going to be talking about (don’t worry, no spoilers here!), with John Nguyen of NerdReactor saying people in his screening were left cheering. He writes:

The First Omen is terrifying, disturbing and shocking! Nell Tiger Free is absolutely incredible in this, and there's an intense scene that got the crowd cheering afterward.

Jamie Jirak of ComicBook.com suggests revisiting the first movie before catching The First Omen, although it’s definitely not required to understand the prequel. Jirak also mentions the wild moment that’s proved difficult to shake, saying:

I enjoyed The First Omen, which won me over in the third act. There's one gory moment that's gonna STICK WITH ME. You don’t have to see the OG to get it, but I do wish I had revisited it first, because there are some deep connections. Nell Tiger Free is a killer lead!

Joseph Deckelmeier echoes the other first reactions, writing that the prequel is worthy of its successor and raises the bar on the original’s controversial content. He continues:

The 1976 version of The Omen had some chilling & controversial scenes, and The First Omen raises the bar. The film is a worthy prequel to the original. The First Omen is creepy, eerie, and unsettling. There’s one scene in particular that is bound to have people talking.

If you’ve been anticipating this newest installment of the Omen franchise, these reactions should make you feel pretty good about the upcoming movie. Make plans to catch The First Omen in theaters starting Friday, April 5, and take a peek at our 2024 movie schedule to see what else is coming up that piques your interest.