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Roman Holiday or Demonic Staycation? Unpacking 'The First Omen (2024) Review

A young American woman is sent to Rome to begin a life of service to the church, but encounters a darkness that causes her to question her faith and uncovers a terrifying conspiracy that hopes to bring about the birth of evil incarnate.

Ah, the moment has finally arrived. "The First Omen" has graced our screens, and I, your humble servant of the cinematic arts, have embarked on a journey to Rome – via my local cinema, popcorn in hand, expectations as high as the price of the concession stand nachos. With stars like Nell Tiger Free, Ralph Ineson, and Sonia Braga, my excitement was palpable, or perhaps that was just the artificial butter leaking through the popcorn bag.

The trailer promised darkness, a battle of faith, and, if we're lucky, an Italian vacation's worth of scenic shots. What we got was a young American woman shipped off to Rome, not for a gap year, but to kickstart her career in church service. Little did she know, her job description included confronting evil incarnate. Talk about a rough first day on the job!

Let's chat about the throwbacks. The film ties back to the original '70s movie like it's trying to win a gold medal in cinematic nostalgia. The style, the ambiance – it's like a time machine, only with more demonic possession and less disco. The cinematography? Chef's kiss. Rome has never looked more menacing, proving once again that good lighting can make even the ancient ruins Instagram-worthy.

Now, onto the less praiseworthy aspects. If you came looking for surprises or plot twists, you might as well be searching for a vegan option at a barbecue competition. The plot was as predictable as my Aunt Linda's holiday fruitcake – you know it's coming, and you know it won't be good. The fear factor was more "hmm, that's unsettling" rather than "check under the bed for demons." And the music? Less mood-setting, more mood-destroying. It felt like the composer was trying to scare us away rather than draw us into the scene.

But let's not forget the pièce de résistance – the birthing sequence that almost earned the film an NC-17 rating. After a tug-of-war with the MPA, it was trimmed down to a less controversial length. Honestly, the most terrifying aspect was thinking about the editing room debates.

So, where does that leave us? "The First Omen" scores an underwhelming 6/10. It's like going to a haunted house and finding out the ghosts are on a coffee break. Worth the watch for the throwbacks and the cinematography, but maybe keep your expectations as low as the lighting.

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