Dir: JohnMoore. US. 2006. 106 minutes.

More thanany other genre, horror film remakes can hew extremely closely to the plot ofthe original. Such is certainly the case with The Omen, John Moore's retread of director Richard Donner's 1976 chiller about the devil incarnate that also triesto by and large replicate much of the old-fashioned tenor of that film.

The resultdelivers a few effective jolts of menace, but ultimately relies substantiallyon the injection of viewers' own beliefs and apprehension to supply the dread.

Regardlessof their final box office tally, recent wide-release horror remakes haveconsistently opened fairly well, and in the absence of much young adultcompetition The Omen should be noexception.

Its novelopening date ' 6/6/06, a marketer's dream ' should also help give the movie somehealthy and important space between its weekend competition.

While thebulk of The Omen's returns shouldcome from the US, the franchise has global namerecognition. Having terrified viewers thirty years ago, it could attractolder-skewing audiences back for a second helping. These, however, are likely to be unimpressed by The Omen's geographical confusion - shot in Prague but allegedly set mostly in England, its faux pas include moving London's US Embassy and other geographical landmarks including the Houses of Parliament, arranging a meeting in London's "Bishops Park" which is clearly not even in England, not to mention driving on the wrong side of the road.

Having faithfully replicated the original scene by scene, the remake also bewilderingly fails to include the music which made the 1976 film so memorable until the end credits, when a brief rendition of Ave Satani only serves to remind viewers of what they've missed.

The Omen's story centres onRobert Thorn (Liev Schreiber), a young, well-heeleddiplomat and the godson of the President of the United States, who's elevated to the post ofAmbassador to Great Britain when his boss dies in a freakaccident.

Yearsearlier, Robert made a snap decision to deceive his wife Kathryn (Julia Stiles)upon the stillborn death of their infant, accepting another child withouttelling her. They have subsequently raised six-year-old Damien (Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick) as their son, with Robert of courseclosely guarding this aforementioned secret.

Their happylives take a turn for the nasty when Damien's nanny hangs herself in front of acrowd at his birthday party and Father Brennan (Pete Postlethwaite),a mysterious but traumatised priest,shows up and forecasts horrible things for Kathryn, Robert and others. Damien,he says, is the Antichrist, the human spawn of Satan. Father Brennan too thensuffers a violent, sudden death.

Theseevents coincide with the Thorns' hiring of a new nanny, Mrs. Baylock (Mia Farrow), and photographer Keith Jennings'(David Thewlis) realization that photos he's taken may have presaged theaforementioned deaths.

Inkeeping with the spirit (as well as the text) of the original - both films wereauthored by David Seltzer, The Omen faithfully recreates all but two of the big set pieces fromthat movie, and only tweaks the others. Working within theframework of a strenuously meticulous production design, Patrick Lumb features religious iconography and crosses galore,though the movie's overtly symbolic use of the colourred (balloons, shawls, flowers, bathrobes and more) at times tips toward therisible.

The Omen does itself no favourswith the remote character of Damien. With his deep blue eyes, brown bowl cutand malevolent pout, Davey-Fitzpatrick cuts aneffective still shot figure, but he's a cipher for immoral wickedness ' evil assoundless petulance.

Schreiberand Stiles nicely ground the picture, jointly portraying the heart-wrenchingdilemma of parents who know deep down that something isn't right with theirchild, but can't fully permit themselves to act upon their suspicions. Thescript, though, reduces them to functional advancers of plot, and there's solittle parental engagement in the wake of various fitful episodes that whatonce seemed creepy now seems hopelessly hermetically sealed off. Mannered,earnest and stylish, The Omen is ablank canvas that draws its anxiety from viewers' own sense of impending moralperil.

Prod co:20th Century Fox

U.S. dist: 20th Century Fox

Internationaldist: 20th Century Fox

Prods:Glenn Williamson, John Moore

Exec prods:Peter Kang, Hutch Parker, Jeffrey Stott

Scr:David Seltzer

Cine:Jonathan Sela

Prod des:Patrick Lumb

Ed: DanZimmerman

Music:Marco Beltrami, Jerry Goldsmith

Main cast: Liev Schreiber, Julia Stiles, DavidThewlis, Pete Postlethwaite, Mia Farrow, Amy Huck,Michael Gambon, Carlo Sabatiniand Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick