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I received an advance screener of the US DVD of this title. What an amazing surprise! A very personal film that was well acted, realistic and suspenseful, without ever becoming unbelievable. Without giving away too much, I have to say that I was blown away by the ending -my sister even cried! The story concerns three lifelong friends (played by Thai pop group D2B, who are apparently the Thai N*Sync) who've started their own graphic design firm. One of them is involved in a mysterious car crash and finds himself in the presence of an old woman, a soothsayer, who can seemingly predict the future. Her "omens" (hence the title OMEN) at first seem to warn the boys, allowing them to alter their fates, but more sinister happenings threaten their friendship (and their lives) when a girl enters the picture. The film has rich character development - way more than I've come to expect from Hollywood movies, and the plot intertwines Thai superstitions with spiritual issues like reincarnation, and many other paranormal anomalies that create a very creepy atmosphere. The DVD has a ton of features, including trailers, band bios, still galleries, and essays; according to one such essay, one of the actors had a real near-death experience after the film finished, and there is a tribute to him from his fan club on the disc. I was able to find two Easter eggs in the menus, too. One of them is a great Behind-the-Scenes documentary with interviews with the cast and Danny and Oxide Pang. Really cool packaging, too. I can't remember the last time I received such a pleasant surprise.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I can see why Westerners will be very confused by this thriller. It is
very non-linear and very complicated to describe. Actually this is one
of very few movies that play with Buddhist themes - reincarnation,
repeating cycles of happenings, causality and metamorphosis. First of
all, it is not horror movie and never meant to be (which is big
difference to The Eye or Japanese horror movies). The movie is not
supposed to be scary even if it plays with mysterious persons who
do-appear and do-disappear like it were ghosts.
It actually works with symbols (items like small car exchanged for small dog figure is pretty much symbol for dog that takes place in your life instead car that hit him) and quite confusing quadruple personality of lady - girl - small girl - dog. These little things go totally unnoticed on the first screening as you expect regular thriller / ghost story. I have been very confused by the quadruple personality, especially by the fact that three aspects seem to coexist in the same time (old lady - girl - small girl), which does not fit regular reincarnation teachings. But different aspects never meet in the movie and in the end all the happenings start to fit in into one big picture. The prophecies of old lady are not prophecies, they are actually memories, the same is the fear from the storm, machinery that prevents comfortable life - ALL these things will start to have sense.
Actually I think these three aspects are not real living, reincarnated person - more or less they are something we would call "guardian angel" in Christianity. But the mechanism that creates this wondrous being is different: It is spirit that willingly decides to be your guardian because you loved him in his life and he loved you. The ending with typical "past-life recall" is both beautiful and sad: The spirit discovers it is only guardian, not a living person and decides to intervene to save one of the friends, therefore leaving for this cycle of life.
The question is: If the guardian would not recognize he is not a real person, could he exist for example as a girl? Could he stay as a real person? I know this may sound very bizarre to you, but the experience is actually quite typical for transgression therapy. Persons who do connect to their previous lives can change abruptly as they discover real roots of their own behavior. Women that live in "willful slavery" to their husbands are free at the moment and may decide to leave. People who discover roots of their phobias are "cured in an instant". Of course they do not vanish in the air, but they are really "reborn by the enlightening" and may start to live quite different life (usually without fear as transgression therapy tries to eliminate deep source of that fear). As the illustration of such process the movie works amazingly.
For Westerners it may be strange to see explanations like "I fear of storm, because when I was a dog in my previous life, I got lost in the storm" or "I fear of confined spaces because in my previous life I was punished by being closed in the wardrobe". But if you saw such therapy or even experienced something similar, you will understand the story behind this movie. Well, it looks like simple and stupid story, but it isn't. Unfortunately most of viewers will never understand that because its philosophy is alien and hard to understand for most of us...
I'm never one to praise acting, as GREAT acting is always very
subjective. However, at the very base requirement, you know an actor's
done his/her job when you watch a movie and subliminally take for
granted that he/she actually IS the person you see on screen, rather
than an actor playing a character. *That* is the mark of a decent actor
doing his/her job, earning his/her keep. That's all you need to do.
Greatness beyond that base is subjective.
This movie fails at that basic premise of the craft. The movie fails to engage you into the characters. (As explained by the fact that the main characters are played by non-professional actors. Boy-band singers, no less.) Because of that, the more dramatic elements of the film felt completely contrived and, in short, like a joke.
There are a lot of good things to say about many low production value movies, ie. many independent movies. 'Omen', however, felt like a high-school project started at the last minute, filmed with a high-school allowance. The story was too contrived, to the point it was farcical. A few people in the viewing audience actually laughed when the plot-twist was revealed. (Many of us just sighed with exhaustion.) It felt like the writers (as accomplished and lauded as they are) felt they HAD to put a twist in there for it's own sake: convoluting just to surprise the audience rather than making a decent story.
I hate to dog on a movie, but this one I feel I have to warn people to stay away from.
It earns one star for having a decent premise (a mysteriously prophetic woman, albeit, somewhat cliché) which had so much potential, only to be floundered on silly casting/acting, an excessively contrived story and production values that would make a Visual Arts D-grade student cringe.
Danger Will Robinson, Danger!
After the success of the directors other films, "Omen" comes as a big
of a shock in just how poor it is. This film is hard to describe in
that it is an unthrilling thriller and a tame spook-fest. Film centres
round the happenings of 3 friends who chance upon an old lady whose
prophecies come true with near fatal results, inter spliced by
flashbacks of a set of boys playing with their dog from 50 years back!
For a start this film lacks any bite at all. Direction is poor, acting
is woeful and the scares are non-existent. In some ways its meant to
ape the feel of "The Eye", but this simply does not have the storyline
to match. When the mystery is all revealed at the end, you will burst
out laughing and is simply the biggest nonsense I have seen in a while.
Everyone in the cinema was laughing at what was meant to be a
sentimental revelation and retelling.
Avoid this, and hope the directors disown this movie.
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