Review: In ‘Damien,’ a Photojournalist Resists His More Devilish Side


Photo

Bradley James in the title role of “Damien,” a new series Mondays on A&E.

Credit
Ben Mark Holberg/A&E

Damien Thorn, the title character of A&E’s new horror series “Damien,” is subject to a particularly onerous punishment. Throughout the early episodes, whenever he has flashbacks to his childhood, he sees clips from “The Omen.” Talk about hell on earth!

The most interesting thing about “Damien,” which was developed by the former “Walking Dead” showrunner Glen Mazzara and begins on Monday night, is how closely it ties itself to that 1976 film about the birth of the Antichrist. (Mercifully, it ignores the intervening sequels.)

The devil dogs are back. Clues to the plot once again are hidden in the backgrounds of photographs. One character maintains a basement museum of Damien memorabilia, including the tricycle he used to assault his mother. The adult Damien (Bradley James of “Merlin”), a 30-year-old photojournalist, repeats the investigation his adoptive father conducted in the film, discovering that the hospital where he was born long ago burned down.

All of these details are entertaining for the viewer who’s seen the ridiculous but amusingly creepy original. They can’t disguise the fact, however, that “Damien” the TV series is a fairly generic supernatural conspiracy thriller with elements of the police procedural, a well-populated genre. (Recent examples: “Dig” on USA, “Zero Hour” on ABC.) Its production values and moody cinematography are better than average, but it’s unlikely to send any shivers down your spine.

“The Omen” tried to raise the stakes of the satanic-possession horror movie by making young Damien the son (secretly adopted) of an American ambassador with designs on political power. In the film, he was last seen smiling at the camera as he held the hand of his new father, the president of the United States.

In “Damien” we learn that after his early years in the White House, he was sent away to boarding school. More crucially but less credibly, he has forgotten about his satanic childhood. This necessitates the flashbacks, as well as a Devil’s helpmate (played by Barbara Hershey), whose main function is to supply exposition about what’s happened since “The Omen.” The explicit political dimension is replaced by a general mood of social compassion in which evil in the world is linked to the troubles of returning wounded veterans.

The new wrinkle in the TV show, necessary for a continuing series, is that Damien is no longer the purely evil brat he was in the movie. He’s conspicuously noble, saving people in war zones and in the New York subway. When he hits 30 and triggers a satanic program that causes people around him to start dying in gruesome ways, he’s not happy. The story sets up a tension regarding whether his evil nature will win out, but really, what are the chances?

Helping Damien retrace his past and decipher strange new events (homicidal dogs, parking-lot sinkholes) are a pair of friends, played by Omid Abtahi and Megalyn Echikunwoke, who have less to do than loyal teammates are usually given in this sort of show. Mr. James, who resembles a less intense Frederick Weller, makes a lightweight Antichrist. Taking advantage of limited screen time in the early going is Scott Wilson of “The Walking Dead,” as a former professor of Damien’s who has an under-the-radar role in world events.

“The Omen,” in addition to being a voluptuously silly horror movie, was a statement on the horrors of modern parenting: The Antichrist was a thoroughly human monster child, driving his helpless, guilty parents to seek psychiatric help. In “Damien,” he’s grown up to be just another millennial with an identity crisis. He could use a little more Devil inside.



Source link

About admin

Check Also

Designing Costumes for ‘Star Wars’ Jedis, Princesses and Naked Creatures

How many costumes did you design for “The Last Jedi”? More than a thousand. And ...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *