HOLLYWOOD—This movie really surprised me. I have NEVER been a fan of prequels because you kind of already know how they will end, especially in the horror genre. Unless there is some twist that is a game changer (there rarely is), you’re watching a movie where you know what the end result will be before you even start it. Well, enter “The First Omen” which is a prequel to the 1976 classic starring Gregory Peck and Lee Remmick as they battle the spawn of the Antichrist. Truth be told the original “The Omen” is a damn spooky horror flick.

This time around we learn a bit more about how Damien is conceived and who his mother is. There have been plenty of comparisons between “The First Omen” and the recent horror flick “Immaculate” starring Sydney Sweeney of “Euphoria” fame. I enjoyed “Immaculate,” but I was enamored with “The First Omen.” The tension in the latter was just more captivating for me.

For starters the opening is quite wicked with a nod to the 1976 classic. There are a few scenes in this prequel that tip its hat to iconic moments in the original that as a viewer if you’ve seen that movie you know exactly what is transpiring. Similar to “Immaculate,” “The First Omen” follows novitiate Margaret Daino (Nell Tiger Lee) who arrives in Italy from America to work at an orphanage for little girls. Margaret arrives at a time where political discourse is heightened with left-wing protests.

Lee is fantastic in the role and truly carries this movie from start to finish. She is poised, confident and brings a fascinating maturity to a character that is more layered than you expect. I mean I’ve never witnessed someone planning to become a nun go out to a club and actually party, but perhaps there is more to the story there. That is where “The First Omen” works quite well. You have this narrative that you absolutely believe is leading you in one direction then ‘boom’ out of nowhere it redirects and your eyes are open to a mystery happening behind the scenes that you should have realized, but you’re too enamored into what is unfolding to catch those subtle hints.

Are the thematic elements of the church, religion, pregnancy and a woman’s right on whether to carry a child or not a focal point of discussion? Absolutely, and with all the legalese unfolding in this country with the abortion debate the movie totally makes males and females in particular discuss that issue of a woman’s right to choose. I enjoyed that the movie is not ladled with blood, but when it does happen it delivers. There is also this interesting bond between Margaret and Carlita (Nicole Sorace), a child at the orphanage who is deemed ‘bad,’ but all is not as it seems. There is so much more to the story and director Arkasha Stevenson builds that tension quite well.

My one gripe with the movie is the lighting. I get it is a horror film and things are to be dark, but not so dark whereas a viewer cannot tell what is unfolding. I get if that is the purpose to build tension for something big that is about to be revealed, but if major plot points are taking place and I can’t see what is happening that is a problem for me. The camera work is not the most pristine in those moments.

Overall, “The First Omen” might be the best flick since the original and after six movies in the franchise; I can totally see a sequel in the works that I would be so eager to see what unfold next.