Horror Film Countdown Day 18 – Movies Anxious Parents Should Avoid

Welcome to our countdown to the most anxiety-inducing horror films for parents!  Day eighteen of our countdown and we are on movie number fourteen!

Each day, we are covering the films I both love and hate because they’re awesome and they give me panic attacks now that I’m a mom.


Welcome back!  Today we spend some time with another sweet, unsuspecting mother who loves her son and would do anything for him.  The best home, the best schools, the best watch dog, the best nanny…

Disclaimer: Trigger warnings are a given when you talk about horror, but I’m going to say it anyway.  Many subjects covered by horror films are disturbing to parents in ways we can’t possibly understand and each is unique to the parent and his/her experiences. Tread carefully and know your limits.  If this begins to be too much, there’s no shame in closing the window.  Also, this post contains some spoilers throughout. 

14. The Omen (1976)

Title: OMEN, THE ¥ Pers: REMICK, LEE ¥ Year: 1976 ¥ Dir: DONNER, RICHARD ¥ Ref: OME003AE ¥ Credit: [ 20TH CENTURY FOX / THE KOBAL COLLECTION ]

So, here is a movie older than I am.  It came out the same year Interview with a Vampire was published, the year Rocky came out, the year of the corduroy suit.  A year before Star Wars was released, this film produced by Fox was profoundly more popular and impactful than anyone anticipated and once you see it, there’s no question why it continues to be on most everyone’s top 10 list of best horror films ever made.

When I saw it the first time, it was “fun”, had some great imagery, a good story, proper good film all around. Watching this movie again after so many years was like seeing it for the first time.  New things struck me in a way I had barely noticed before and all related to being a mom.

A father’s son dies.  He accepts an orphan child in its place, one who was born at the same time his own child was born.  He never tells his wife, he simply replaced the child and put it in her arms.

Okay, I realize it’s the 70’s and birth happened differently back then, but seriously?  The father thought it was in his wife’s best interest.  “The mother died the very moment your baby died… she (the wife) never needs to know.  God has given you a son this night…. take the blessing.”  Seriously if ANYONE thought a mother wouldn’t lose her damn mind if this happened to her and she EVER found out, they’re just insane.


As the child grows, he is nearly always in the arms of his nanny until his fifth birthday.  The mother suddenly takes special interest in him after seeing a photographer snapping pictures of her son in the arms of a nanny.  Suddenly growing a conscience, she takes her child for her OWN photos, leaving the nanny feeling useless.  She then catches the eye of a black dog in the woods to seems to speak to her somehow. The party continues and the little family seems happy, blessed with good fortune and joy until the faithful nanny throws herself off a roof in front of a lawn of party guests, cheerfully exclaiming that famous line, “It’s all for you, Damien!”.


The story picks up the pace as the nanny is mysteriously replaced by “the agency”.  A pushy, stern woman takes over the nanny duties while mother and father seem bewildered, yet somehow, not suspicious.  How could you not be suspicious enough of this creepy looking woman who showed up uninvited to live in your home and watch your kid?  This lady would be out the door and on her way to being investigated in about four seconds.  Instead, they just smile sheepishly and carry on with this “it must be fine” sort of attitude. Different times, I guess…

I also noticed during and after Damien’s first major outburst, the first clue that something was wrong – he became petrified at the idea of having to walk into a church and reacted violently against his mother. He begins screaming desperately, begging them to leave.  Now, as a mother of a child with autism, I am no stranger to the meltdown over something that seems fine to me.  I am 100% certain I’d have reacted the same way as his parents; get him out of the place he’s terrified of and go home where he feels safe.  The problem is, the mother is in denial as the father considers that maybe there is something wrong.  Everything is fine, she says.. it was “just a fright”, that’s all.  I mean, really, who would suspect your child is actually the son of the Devil and is terrified of churches because he might explode?

The issues with the nanny continue as she oversteps her boundaries, pushes her opinion, brings a creepy dog into the house then refuses to get rid of it.  She clearly has an unhealthy attachment and sense of ownership over the boy, yet the parents do nothing.  This brings a common mom anxiety to light; does my childcare worker really love my child?  Do they respect my authority and parenting style?  Are they being kind to my children when I leave?  Can I trust them?  Are they filling my child with terrible thoughts or ideas?  This is a fear every mother has experienced as she kisses her babies goodbye and hands them to someone else.  Sure, they might not all be minions of Satan, but sometimes nannys are terrible humans. We take that risk every time we open our homes and our trust to a childcare worker.


As the film progresses and we see the father come into an understanding of what his “son” really is, we also see the mother, still unsuspecting.  She falls into a depression. She has anxiety about her child and a deep sense that she cannot be a mother again.  Soon after realizing she is pregnant, she is knocked off balance by her son and falls from a balcony, killing the baby inside her.  All while little Damien watches from above.


At the same time, the father is learning more about the history of the birth and unraveling the mystery of who is child really is.  SO, he figures out that his actual son was murdered by Satanists and he was given the child of Satan to raise as his own, his wife is murdered, his friend is decapitated and he is given a series of ancient knives to sacrifice his son upon the altar of God on hallowed ground.


Here’s the issue;  As his (the Devil’s) son cries and screams for him to stop hurting him, “daddy please, don’t!  Daddy!  Don’t hurt me, please!” my heart tore from my chest at the thought of all the actual children who have been murdered at the hands of some “holy” person throughout history because they believed them to be evil.  This film brings to light just how dark faith can be.

Damien is the same age as my own son and only a year older than my daughter, so naturally, I think about them as I watch it.  The idea of someone believing such horrors of my own child or wanting to do harm to him in the name of their god terrifies me.  Sure, in this film it was warranted – I mean, Damien actually WAS the child of Satan, but crazy people are out there and they believe they have the power of God behind them as they do terrible things to their fellow man. That is a real thing.  Not a make-believe horror film.  The zealous fanatics are real people and they are out there – in all forms, of all faiths, in all nations.

When I see this film, I know it’s about “the son of the Devil”, but that’s not what i see.  I see a little boy whose father is manipulated and convinced to kill his child.  I know this is the point… to leave a shadow of doubt in the seed of both the father and in the viewer: have sympathy for the devil and you never know, maybe he’s not so bad after all.


Of course, that’s what he wants you to think….

Only thirteen movies to go before Halloween and the reveal of the most panic-inducing horror film a parent could ever watch!  Keep up and stay tuned!