DECEMBER 22, 2011
Two mockbusters of 2006 remakes in as many weeks? What kind of devilry is afoot here? Luckily, 666: The Child (made to cash in on Fox's 2006 remake of The Omen) is much better than Hillside Cannibals, in that it actually has some semblance of structure, a lot of surprisingly fun, Final Destination-lite deaths, and the lovely (Asylum regular) Sarah Lieving, inspiring me to once again sigh that I only see her in Asylum movies. Can someone upgrade her to Syfy Original regular, at least?
Anyway, the deaths really help keep this one going. They're all pretty splatter-y, and there's a lot of variety - a falling pipe, a trip through a glass door, a doctor's drill... even a good ol' fashioned old lady (a nun!) getting hit by a car. The movie is only 79 minutes long (a whopping 10 of which are just the hilariously slow end credits), but director Jack Perez seems to know how to balance the "talk" to "ridiculous" death ratio so that it feels even shorter.
It also helps that they're swiping from a plot-driven movie, so they have a "guide" of sorts to keep them from going astray. Unlike Hillside Cannibals, it wouldn't help anyone to try to surprise us by killing off most of the cast in the first 10 minutes, because this is a killer kid movie! The template is pretty simple: bring the kid into a new home, get suspicious of the recent deaths in act 2, and take action in act 3. If they raced through that and had the kid kill his new parents in the first act, they'd REALLY have to scramble to keep the thing going.
So they do the "right" thing and copy The Omen beat for beat. Even though the husband is some bland surfer looking dude, it still comes down to him to try to kill the evil child, after his wife (Lieving) has been dispatched. And he even gets shot to death by the police in the process, as the kid has suddenly lost his ability to control random objects and defend himself, I guess. There's even a cult member nanny named... wait for it... Lucy Fer, subbing in for the Mrs. Baylock character. Speaking of the names, "Donald" for the evil kid? That's the best they could come up with?
There's also an old priest delivering the exposition about Donald's true nature, but otherwise the Antichrist stuff is largely downplayed. I mean, there's still 666 imagery and such, but it seems far less based on religious text and superstition than either version of The Omen. They also drop the ball on the kid's relation to the events around him, he's present for some murders but others are of characters that he's barely had any involvement with, nor does he seem particularly threatening (remake) or even curious (original) about said events... he's just some punk kid who looks a lot older than the 9 years old he is supposed to be.
They also don't do nearly enough with the shift from politics to entertainment. Be it due to the budget or just some sort of satire that I'm not sharp enough to follow, his big ambition is seemingly not to enter politics, but to infiltrate the entertainment industry, and thus the movie ends with him... taking a co-host role on a basic cable daytime cooking show. Oh shit! But I guess in the long run it's not too big of a deal, since the sequel apparently ignored this concept anyway and just had him running some generic corporation as an adult, instead of now being the king of late night or whatever it is one could work their way up to after landing a cushy gig peeling the onions or measuring out tablespoons of sugar on a cooking show.
The movie was directed by Jack Perez, who botched Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus (though perhaps he knew that, as he used a pseudonym) but also helmed the pretty delightful Some Guy Who Kills People, which I caught at Screamfest and even moderated a Q&A with Perez and some of the other folks from the film. Pretty random career, but at least he has seemingly escaped The Asylum's clutches; hopefully he will continue to find success in the genre. I don't think he'll go on to be our next John Carpenter or anything, but if he can make a decent "mockbuster" (one of the few), I think he can be counted on to deliver the goods on a more respectable production (i.e. one that took more than a week to shoot).
What say you?