A Scene In The First Omen Had Crew Members Walking Off Set In Horror

In what feels like a (brief) return of twin films — two movies with very similar plots released at the same time, like "Deep Impact" and "Armageddon" — we now have "The First Omen" and "Immaculate" bringing Catholic horror and nunsploitation back to the big screen.

"The First Omen" takes us back to a sweet time in the '70s when everyone was obsessed with religious horror, thanks in no small part to the monumental success of "The Exorcist" and "Rosemary's Baby." The film is a prequel to Richard Donner's 1976 film "The Omen," about the coming of the Antichrist that also plays very much like a Catholic take on "Final Destination" — with photos that show the order and the gruesome manner in which several characters in the film will die.

"The First Omen" is a fantastic film, one that recontextualizes the events of the original and brings an air of mystery back to the franchise, with a big church conspiracy that Nell Tiger Free's Margaret Daino gets engulfed in after arriving at an orphanage in Rome. Free talked to The Hollywood Reporter about the one scene that had crew members freaking the hell out. 

The scene takes place near the end of the film, as Margaret approaches a church and just lets loose, contorting in pain and ecstasy.

"There's something so satisfying about releasing parts of yourself that, society-wise, you should keep hidden," Free said. "It's this real animalistic rage that I tapped into and let come out, so it felt amazing. It really did." She added:

"It was really satisfying to see a couple of people walk off set because they were so uncomfortable. People wouldn't look me in the eye afterwards because they thought I was evil. So I loved the experience. It felt real and like we did something cool."

Paying homage to a classic

The scene is a big homage to the 1981 film "Possession," a visceral horror drama about divorce, where a lovelorn Sam Neill chases after Isabelle Adjani through the streets of Berlin as she becomes more disturbingly erratic. The film is now considered to be a classic of the genre, but it took decades for it to become one, as it was heavily edited upon release.

The scene in question takes place in a subway and remains one of the scariest scenes in horror. As our own Debopriyaa Dutta described it in her explainer for the ending of "Possession," it is a scene of "insurmountable guilt mired in repressed desires." Adjani contorts and screams alone in a subway station, simultaneously possessed by something and liberated. 

"The First Omen" is shaping up to be quite a horror event. For one, the film's director, Arkasha Stevenson had to fight the Motion Picture Association to get an R-rating — not to bump it from a PG-13, but to lower it from an NC-17. The main point of contention was not extreme gore or sexual content, but a simple shot of a vagina in a non-sexual context.