Although the 1976 thriller starring Gregory Peck and Lee Remick as the unsuspecting parents to Satan's offspring didn't really need to be remade, it was good enough to stand on its own, this film is well acted and every bit as scary.
It stars Lieve Schreiber as Robert Thorn, a deputy US ambassador to Italy and Julia Stiles as his young wife Kathy. The film opens with Kathy having just given birth to a stillborn baby boy in an Italian hospital. A devastated Robert is urged by a priest to take a baby that was born that same hour and raise it as his own, since the mother died at birth. Thorn makes a decision that will alter their lives from that moment on.
Without telling his wife, Thorn brings the child into her hospital room and introduces it as their new baby boy. They take the child home and Damien and the Thorns have a happy and uneventful life. That is, until the boy (Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick) turns five years old, and people begin dying in bizarre manners all around them.
The first to die is Robert's boss, which gives him a promotion to full Ambassador to The Court of Saint James. The family moves into a huge castle-like mansion, and weird and unexplainable deaths ensue.
Damien's nanny is the next to die, which gives Mrs. Baylock (Mia Farrow) a foot in the door as his new caretaker. Farrow has practice in this style of child care (remember Rosemary's Baby?) She presents the nanny as much kinder than in the first film, because as Ms. Farrow says, she needed to soften her character at first because who in their right mind would hire a scary woman to take care of their child. She does, however, turn very creepy soon enough, after all, she is the protector of the Antichrist.
The Prague setting gives a gothic feel to the film, and the lighting, or should I say the lack of lighting heightens the eeriness of it all.
Schreiber is kind of wooden and somber in the beginning, but shows the right amount of emotion as he realizes what Damien really is. Stiles is also effective as the mother who is very afraid of her own son. Young Davey-Fitzgerald does little but narrow his eyes and scowl - but I guess as Satan's offspring that's all he needs to do.
Opening on 06/06/06 is a great promotional bit, but its spooky goings-on like digging bones up in a dark cemetery, large black dogs that attack with fangs bared, and ominous signs that the predict gruesome deaths, that really make the film a great horror experience.