WonderCon2016: Damien: Just Another Handsome Devil?

by Pamela Auditore

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The Spawn of Satan arrived on Good Friday at WonderCon, —A&E’s Damien.

You know Damien from the classic horror film The Omen. The chubby cheeked child, born of a jackal, who inspires nannies to hang themselves and Rockweilers to appear mysteriously, threatening to tear apart anyone who looks askance at the tot.

It was followed by two lackluster sequels, the last starring the charmingly wicked smile of Sam Neil as a grown Damien, at the height of his powers, hell bent on going mano-a-mano with “the Nazarene.”  NewsFlash: Damien loses.  Dies.  End of Story.

So, duh, of course, the original Omen film is the jumping off point for Executive Producer Glen Mazzara (formerly of the Walking Dead), and actor Bradley Jones to explore who and what Damien is and if his fate is to become the Beast and make his  Infernal Father proud

In the Omen, we are kept guessing as to whether Damien is a monster or merely inspiring the monster in others to come out? Will that be the case with the series? It’s not possible to judge from the  21-minutes of not necessarily related scenes shown at the Friday noon panel.

This new iteration introduces  30-year-old Damien Thorn as a brooding but likable War Photographer.  We see him informing John Lyon (Scott Wilson, Herschel of The Walking Dead) the avuncular Chairman of a corporate empire, that Anne Rutledge (Barbara Hershey) claims Damien, is the Anti-Christ. Instead of calling for the Happy Wagon to pick-up Ms. Rutledge–whoever she is–John,  gives Damien a fatherly “there, there.”

What’s a dude supposed to do with that? Especially when all manner of freaky occurrences start happening.  NYPD Detective Shay (David Meunier) shows up at Damien’s apartment after an incident in the subway (not shown) when there are further incidents (also not shown) the detective can’t help noticing, gory deaths are happening all around Damien every time he walks out of his loft.

So the good Detective interrogates Damien at the police station, where they exchange threats.  Eventually, Shay has to let Damien go but his mere presence provokes all hell to break loose.  An old man attempts to stab him. While wrestling for the knife, the police jump Damien, and the old man stabs himself repeatedly in the groin. Did the Devil or Damien make the old man mutilate himself?

If Mazzara is proposing Damien is consciously or unconsciously, influencing people around him to violence or is being manipulated by others into becoming the Beast, then there might be something interesting going on here.  Damien certainly doesn’t like to be bullied by a suspicious detective when he hasn’t knowingly done anything wrong.   But who would?  On the other hand, Damien seems genuine in wanting to prevent harm to others.  I suppose the real world corollary is suddenly discovering you are the trust fund kid of a Mafia Don and heir to Murder, Inc.  Left alone you might remain a decent person.  Take over the business and you’re Michael Corleone. Hey? Whatcha gonna do?  Take the cannoli?

According to Mazzara: “There are two camps. There’s the Devil’s Camp (Hershey and Wilson) or the Human Camp if you will”– like Damien’s loft mate (Omid Abtahi)  and Damien’s ex-girlfriend played by Tiffany Hines. “Each,” says Mazzara, “having different agendas around this one desperate man.”

In our celebrity culture, with the possibility of the US electing  a bombastic reality star to the highest office, a tale of a reluctant Anti-Christ as a trust fund brat, and small-time celebrity, unaware of his power to inspire others to commit outrageous acts, then Damien might be relevant.

Be warned, there are some quick shots of realistic gore.  For instance, a man is splattered like a pumpkin on a car.  It may not be for squeamish.

Damien Premiere’s on A&E on Monday,  March, 28 10/9C

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