Mia Farrow returns to horror in "Omen" remake
NEW YORK, June 6: Mia Farrow has come full circle by giving birth to Satan's cinematic spawn nearly four decades ago and now returning as the anti-Christ's on-screen nanny in the remake of the horror classic ''The Omen.'' The waif-like star, now 61, is revisiting the genre that launched her career. In 1968, when she was 23 and married to Frank Sinatra, she starred in Roman Polanski's hit ''Rosemary's Baby,'' about a young woman afraid that her neighbours have a satanic plan for her unborn child.
''The Omen'' stars Liev Schreiber and Julia Stiles as the unsuspecting parents of a demonic boy named Damien, while Farrow reinterprets the evil nanny, Mrs. Baylock.
Even before ''The Omen's'' release -- today when the numerical date, 6-6-06, evokes a number long tied by folklore to the devil -- debate over the merits of John Moore's remake of the 1976 film has hit the Internet.
Moore, in a recent meeting with reporters, said he had to update the characters with more depth. Damien's mother Katherine Thorn (Stiles), who knows her child is strange, now suffers openly from postpartum depression while the wicked Mrs. Baylock (Farrow) appears kind and gentle.
Casting Farrow as the caretaker, replacing the nanny who leaps to her death at Damien's birthday party, was ''pure fantasy,'' Moore told reporters in New York. He recalled how people told him to forget it, that Farrow would never agree.
Farrow, for her part, told reporters she ''seriously questioned'' the role, since she ''loved to be scared by'' the original character, played by Billie Whitelaw.
But Farrow accepted Moore's sweeter version of the nanny after he explained that the original nanny's bad intentions were too obvious.
''It might have flown 30 years ago, but it wouldn't fly today,'' Moore said, commenting on the parents handing their child over to a mean and mysterious caretaker.
''He used the word 'angelic','' Farrow said with a smile. ''So I began shining up my halo.'' An early review on Web site www.horror.com congratulated Moore on ''walking the fine line between faithfulness to the source material and a nod to the new guard of horror fans who demand a little extra.''
The new film is very close to the original, except that modern tragedies are employed to suggest the New Testament's apocalyptic Book of Revelation is coming true, and that the anti-Christ is on his way. There are allusions to modern events such as the Darfur crisis, the Iraq war, the 2004 tsunami and the events of Sept. 11. ''I'm posing the notion that now more than ever ... failure to act against the evil that's being perpetrated on a daily basis could result in a falling into the precipice of evil,'' Moore said.
Leading man Schreiber linked the revival to a similar mood in the late 1970s as in the present time. ''I don't know if it has something to do with the end of the Vietnam War and civil conflicts and what was going on in the country politically,'' he said. ''But I certainly think there are some parallels that could be drawn with 2006.'' Paul Dergarabedian, president of box-office tracker Exhibitor Relations Co. offered a more practical explanation, saying that young moviegoers enjoy seeing films they know of, but are too young to have watched.
So for a studio such as Twentieth Century Fox, which owns ''The Omen'' rights, a remake can be easy money, he said. The story is there. The name is familiar. What's more, it can revive DVD sales of an old film that died long ago.
When Warner Bros. re-released ''The Exorcist'' in 2000 with extra footage, it pulled in 39.7 million dollars domestically, on top of the 165 million dollars it grossed in 1973.