“The Signs Are All Around You” — especially if you live in a major metropolitan city.
Those words are usually used to call your attention to war, famine, hurricanes and other disasters signifying the impending arrival of hell on Earth. Instead, however, the signs literally are all around you.
“6+6+06″ they scream in huge white numbers against a black background. Look closer, and you might notice that they aren’t plus signs at all, but upside-down crosses. If you’re skeptical enough to do a little surfing on the Internet, you’ll also discover that the signs are trying to sell you something.
“I wouldn’t even call this a horror film, because it’s not really that gory. It’s more of a psychological thriller,” actress Julia Stiles said, pulling back the curtain on the ad campaign for “The Omen.” A remake of the 1976 flick about a family who suspect they’re raising the Antichrist will be released June 6.
“I was really, really happy to be able to work with Liev Schreiber again,” Stiles said of the film’s critically acclaimed leading man, who also starred with her in 2000’s “Hamlet.” “And Mia Farrow too.”
The presence of Farrow offers a knowing wink at genre fans, since the veteran actress was only slightly younger than Stiles when she also dealt with a demon seed in the 1968 classic “Rosemary’s Baby.”
If all those billboards and signs have led you to the official “Omen” site, you may have seen the film’s 66-second trailer, which reveals Schreiber and Stiles so briefly that you might miss them. It’s all part of the film’s carefully marketed campaign, aimed at making moviegoers believe that the signs of the apocalypse are all around.
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“He definitely wanted to update it and make it more relevant to current events,” Stiles said of director John Moore (“Behind Enemy Lines”). “Everything from natural disasters to the way we are in world politics: We’re living in a scary time. Part of what makes that worse, I think, is the terror that feeds on itself, which is a little bit of what ’The Omen’ is about. The more people fear this apocalyptic time, the worse off they are. It makes a bad situation worse.”
Fans of the original may assume that the basic plot structure will stay the same. According to Stiles, however, Moore made sure that all of the rules were thrown out the window. “I did like the original a lot, but of course we don’t want to repeat something,” she said, citing a major character’s shocking death. “And visually, the way John Moore shot it is different from the original.”
The bottom line, Stiles said, is that the film will be as dark and disorienting as those signs popping up all over the country.
“Regardless of all the religious imagery, even if you don’t believe in all that stuff, what’s scary about ’The Omen’ is that it’s really about people terrorizing themselves,” she said. “My character, for instance, imagines the worst-case scenario, to the point where she drives herself crazy and she can’t communicate with her husband. It’s all about the way that people can scare themselves into believing in scary things that can happen in the future.”
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