The First Omen parents guide: The Omen prequel was almost rated NC-17, so keep your little devils away

The new horror film in theaters now is a prequel to the original, 1976 Omen.
(L-R): Sonia Braga as Silvia and Nell Tiger Free as Margaret in 20th Century Studios' THE FIRST OMEN. Photo by Moris Puccio. © 2024 20th Century Studios. All Rights Reserved.
(L-R): Sonia Braga as Silvia and Nell Tiger Free as Margaret in 20th Century Studios' THE FIRST OMEN. Photo by Moris Puccio. © 2024 20th Century Studios. All Rights Reserved. /
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The First Omen is now in theaters, starting today. The prequel to the original 1976 film (and not the 2006 remake) is part of a larger trend of extending horror franchises through legacy prequels, sequels, etc. Here, we’re following a nun played by Nell Tiger Free as she discovers the horror that led to the birth of Damien, aka the Antichrist. But is this movie appropriate for your little devils? Short answer: absolutely not.

Directed by Arkasha Stevenson, and written by Stevenson, Tim Smith, and Keith Thomas, the movie picks up in the early 1970s in Rome as prospective nun Margaret Daino heads to an orphanage run by Cardinal Larence (Bill Nighy), the man who cared for her in her youth. Once she arrives, strange, horrible things start happening, mostly around a young disturbed girl named Carlita Skianna (Nicole Sorace). Could Carlita be the future mother of the Antichrist?

I’ll be up front: The First Omen is the first Omen movie I’ve ever watched, so I don’t know if they’re all like this. But this movie is not psychological horror, though there’s a fair amount of that. It’s blood, guts, pregnancy trauma, jump scares, demon rape, and so much more. I already spoiled this, but this is not for the faint of heart, and definitely for anyone who doesn’t like some incredibly graphic horror scenes.

If you like that? More power to you. But even then, this movie – which the filmmakers needed to fight to bring down from an NC-17 to an R-rating is extreme, even by horror movie standards.

Let’s get into how and why, so you can make a determination for yourself.

The First Omen Parents Guide: Explaining The R Rating

THE FIRST OMEN
Nell Tiger Free as Margaret in 20th Century Studios' THE FIRST OMEN. Photo by Moris Puccio. © 2024 20th Century Studios. All Rights Reserved. /

The First Omen is rated R for “violent content, grisly/disturbing images, and brief graphic nudity.” Just to give you a little preview of what we’re going to break down below. As mentioned, the MPA did give it an NC-17 rating initially, and we’re going to get into spoilers for why in the first section below.

Sex & Nudity: It’s because you see a vagina. And to be clear about this, it is during a birthing scene that dances around what you’re seeing at first. There’s a woman completely nude from the waist down, screaming as she gives birth and doctors and nuns busy themselves around her. So as a viewer, you think maybe they’re going to avoid showing you what happens. They do not, in fact, avoid it. If you’ve ever watched the health class classic The Miracle of Life, you know what’s coming next. The camera cuts to the side to show what seems to be a baby emerging from the woman’s vagina. Then it cuts directly on for some frontal nudity, as what actually emerges from her vagina is a demonic, gruesome claw that unfolds.

Reportedly, the filmmakers argued this was not as big of a deal as the MPA was making it because it’s just female nudity, and the standard for that is higher than male nudity. Though I am not a member of the MPA, if I was watching a movie where a demon claw pushed its way out of a penis, I think I would give this movie an NC-17, as well.

Other than this scene, there’s still a lot of sex in the movie. The nudity is otherwise constrained to some side-boob from our main character when she goes out partying before officially taking the veil and one time when a burned, dead nun shows up. Though in the latter case, she’s so horribly charred, she’s technically nude but it doesn’t really matter; you can’t see anything.

The sex, though, is pervasive, from the first scene onwards. The whole plot of the movie is that Satan is impregnating women to create the Antichrist, and these women are bound, gagged, and raped by the devil. You don’t see much other than the gasping women from the shoulders up, other than one gauzy shot through a black piece of cloth placed over their head where the demon approaches. But the implication is there, and it’s harrowing to watch.

There’s also a lot of suggestive language from the nuns as they joke around (seriously), and one scene where a nun hooks up with a guy at a club.

Violence: Again, the first scene sets the tone here. A priest played by Charles Dance gets hit in the head with some falling rubble, and though he says he’s fine when he turns around there’s a slice of his head that has been taken out, and you can see his brains leaking blood. As teased above, a nun sets herself on fire and hangs herself while children watch. Various people are stabbed. A man gets cut in half by a car crash, and you can see the bottom half of his intestines hanging out.

But again, the most harrowing is probably the pregnancy trauma, which features screaming, sobbing women (multiple), C-sections involving pulling the full birth sack out, and is generally very hard to watch. If you are triggered by this sort of thing, avoid this movie at all costs.

Language: These are nuns and priests so there’s no real language for the most part. But at least one F-bomb is dropped, and there is some cursing layered sparsely throughout. They are dealing with the devil, after all.

Drinking & Drugs: There’s a ton of drinking in one scene where Margaret and her roommate Luz Valez (Maria Caballero) head to a club, and Margaret gets very drunk. There are also drugs involved in the pregnancy scenes, and given the demonic nature of the whole thing don’t quite seem to be your run-of-the-mill epidural.

Overall Verdict: What Age Is The First Omen Appropriate For?

I know it would have hurt the box office prospects of this movie, but I am not an investor in 20th Century Studios so I think I can safely say that despite the R rating, NC-17 is a good guide here. This is decidedly not for anyone except adults, particularly given the harrowing nature of the birthing scenes.

That said, if you have horror fiend teens who have watched the previous Omen movies, or like watching, say, Eli Roth’s Hostel series, maybe it would be okay? But I definitely would not recommend anyone under the age of 17 watch this movie.

The First Omen is now in theaters.

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