A shameless ‘Da Vinci Code’-style prologue shows Vatican priests warning the Pope about an impending Armageddon, citing the Book of Revelation and recent disasters: Hurricane Katrina, the Asian tsunami and 9/11. This pre-empts any ambiguity about the devilish nature of the baby, Damien (Davey-Fitzpatrick), which Rome-based diplomat Robert Thorn (Schreiber) switches for the boy his wife lost in childbirth. So when Thorn is unexpectedly appointed US ambassador to Great Britain, and the family move to London, it’s no surprise when the diabolical happenings start. There’s a shocking public suicide, the ominous warnings and bizarre death of Father Brennan (Pete Postlethwaite), and the mysterious appearance of übernanny Mrs Baylock (Mia Farrow) and her fiercely protective ‘devil dog’.
Nuts-and-bolts director John Moore (‘The Flight of the Phoenix’) stages a couple of gruesome set pieces with panache, but the film lacks suspense, atmosphere and any hint of human emotion.
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