Saturday, June 18, 2016

SyFy vs. The Mynd: Ominous (2015)

Rachel (Esmé Bianco) and Michael (Barry Watson) Young’s little son Jacob (Gavin Lewis) dies when his father doesn’t hold to the old rule that drinking and reversing out of one’s driveway don’t mix.

When a not at all ominous (see what I did there?) stranger (Mark Lindsay Chapman) offers them to resurrect their son they are a bit sceptical at first. Fortunately, Michael is such a menace when driving they just happen to carry a freshly run over dog in their car, which the Stranger promptly revives. Given further developments, I’m pretty disappointed we never hear from the dog again afterwards, Ominous cheating us out of some perfectly good Devil Dog remake action.

So off our heroes drive to dig out their son. The Stranger does as he promises, but would you believe it, little Jacob isn’t quite as was once before what with him killing the family dog to for being barked at and all. Three months later, the family has relocated to avoid what would have been some truly awkward – yet hilarious – questions. Michael’s sober, Rachel’s happy, and Jacob murders small animals or causes telekinetic playground massacres when he’s getting really annoyed. One Father Francis (Eric Etebari), dagger-fighting devil-hunting priest, informs Michael that his son is the Anti-Christ, and thanks to Jacob’s total lack of restraint when it comes to using his magical powers in public, it very quickly becomes rather difficult for Michael to disagree. Rachel, on the other hand, will need a while to come around to the proper point of view.

Well, say what you will against Peter Sullivan’s Ominous, it sure doesn’t follow the usual SyFy Original formula (on account of it being a film made for but not by the Channel, I suppose). Instead, it’s a cheap, frequently hilarious riff on The Omen and other kid Satan films. I can’t remember ever having seen an entry into that exclusive sub-genre that wasn’t any good, so it doesn’t come as much of a surprise Ominous is pretty bad too.

However – and fortunately – it is bad in all the best ways, with a cast that treats the hilarious and usually deeply stupid things they have to do or say as if they were involved in matters of great gravitas and import, special effects that try to make up for their lack of imagination with a lot of digital gore, an evil Satanic conspiracy that seems to have only one member, a haunted priest who looks like he spends more time in front of the mirror taking care of his facial hair than fighting evil and who has the astonishing ability to decapitate a teenager with a dagger, a possessed boy whose last act super power seems to be to transform into a teenager-sized version of himself in bad demon make-up (or might that be the film being a wee bit nervous about showing a little kid axed and knifed by his own parents?).

If that’s not enough for your brain – mine’s already dead, so don’t look at my like that – the film’s final act also features a fight between a SWAT team and a digital unkindness of ravens or a digital murder of crows – who can identify digital bids? - which the SWAT team manages to lose, and that features a bird swarm so badly done it’s nearly on the sub-basement level of Birdemic.

What’s not to like?

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