The First Omen is a direct prequel to The Omen that exists very deliberately within that world. There are visual nods to the first film as well as introductions to characters who we will see in more depth in the ‘76 Richard Donner original. It’s an Easter egg hunter’s heaven. But The First Omen is still very much its own film, and it’s very deliberately a female one.

Following Margaret (Nell Tiger Free), who travels to Rome to take the veil and be initiated into the church, it’s a movie populated predominantly with women, from the Abbesses and Sisters of the orphanage to the orphan girls the nuns take care of. It was also an element that was incredibly important to director Arkasha Stevenson.

“When I inherited the script, it was an Omen prequel already,” Stevenson explains. “The bones were already in place. I work with a writing partner and a creative partner, Tim Smith, and what we were able to do is really personalize it and personalize the horror, which for me was bringing it into the realm of body horror in particular, as it pertains to a woman’s body.”

Make no mistake, this is proper horror drenched in viscera with certain scenes that might shock some viewers, but for Stevenson how that horror was presented was key. 

“What was really important for us not to do is fetishize the body horror, and by proxy, the women who the horror was happening to,” she says, emphasizing the need to humanize the women who were going through certain ordeals. It’s undeniable that historically the horror genre isn’t known for being overly respectful to women’s bodies especially with scenes of an intimate nature. But Stevenson was adamant that her female characters’ human experiences be front and central, rather than these scenes feeling exploitative.

Stevenson grew up on horror cinema from a young age, citing The Exorcist, Rosemary’s Baby, and of course the original Omen as movies she enjoyed. “What was so lovely about that is that I wasn’t watching it through the lens of horror. I was just watching it through the lens of watching other people, you know. Horror has been such a wonderfully wide and malleable genre to explore just because it covers every topic, human emotion, and spectrum.”

What you can expect is a movie that “dovetails in with the ‘76 version” but maintains an identity of its own, featuring beautiful shots of Rome, the extraordinary costumes of Paco Delgado (body horror in this instance doesn’t have to be just viscera), and nuns smoking cigarettes and talking about sex 

“I haven’t seen a movie where nuns talk about sex. It’s exciting to see these women who you’re taught to think of almost as asexual, having sexual lives and sensual desires at one point,” says Stevenson.

And of course there’s Damien’s origin story to explore.

“It was important for us to be able to tell [Margaret’s] own story that stood on its own while also being able to marry into the ‘76 version,” says Stevenson. “So we did bend rules whilst trying to still keep the spirit of the original. But we were excited to do something new and fresh.”

The First Omen opens in theaters on April 5.

The post The First Omen Reimagines Body Horror from Women’s Perspectives appeared first on Den of Geek.

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