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wednesday christian movie review

Television Review: ‘Wednesday’

wednesday christian movie review

NEW YORK – The cartoons of Charles Addams (1912-1988) have cast a long and darkly humorous shadow. Collected in books and adapted to a wide variety of media, his work has proved to have a rich and enduringly popular legacy.

Thus, the mid-1960s saw the debut of the live-action ABC television show, “The Addams Family.” In the mid-’70s, an animated version aired briefly as Saturday-morning fare on NBC-TV. Twenty years after that, ABC took a shot at its own cartoon series, with John Astin, the network’s original Gomez Addams, now voicing the clan’s merrily morbid patriarch.

Around the same time, Barry Sonnenfeld directed two films – the eponymous original and the sequel “Addams Family Values” – that met with a mixed fate both at the box office and at the hands of critics.

wednesday christian movie review

Poor financial returns from the second movie left the future of the big-screen franchise in doubt. But any extension of it seems to have been stymied entirely by the premature death, in 1994, of Raul Julia, who had taken on Astin’s role.

More than 25 years elapsed before a duo of less-than-memorable animated features followed, both co-directed by Greg Tiernan and Conrad Vernon. Video games and a straight-to-DVD film are other entries in the canon.

Now, Tim Burton steps forward as director of “Wednesday,” a spin-off named for, and focused on, the comically macabre family’s daughter. All eight episodes of the series, which stars Jenna Ortega in the title role, are streaming on Netflix.

Given the affinity between Burton’s sensibility and Addams’, the creative combination would seem, at first blush, to be a promising one. Yet, despite impressive gothic atmospherics, a laser-intense performance from Ortega and the occasional witty exchange in the dialogue, a diffuse plot with too many competing storylines keeps the production from fully coalescing.

Both the tone of the show and its appropriate audience are indicated by the opening sequence. Out to avenge her bullied little brother Pugsley (Isaac Ordonez), whose persecutors are on their school’s swim team, Wednesday introduces piranha into the pool in which the loutish lads are practicing – with momentarily, but explicitly, gory consequences.

Taking Wednesday’s subsequent expulsion as an opportunity, her parents, Morticia (Catherine Zeta-Jones) and the aforementioned Gomez (Luis Guzmán), enroll her in their alma mater, Nevermore Academy. As might be guessed from the couple’s attendance there, Nevermore’s student body is made up of outcast oddballs.

Intent on escaping rather than fitting in, Wednesday is closely watched by Nevermore’s stately principal, Larissa Weems (Gwendoline Christie). She’s also annoyed by the cheerfulness of her new roommate, Enid Sinclair (Emma Myers), and by the smugness of Nevermore’s reigning queen bee, Bianca Barclay (Joy Sunday).

Add to the mix at least two potential love interests, classmate Xavier Thorpe (Percy Hynes White) and local barista Tyler Galpin (Hunter Doohan), as well as mysteries past and present, and the sense that showrunners and writers Alfred Gough and Miles Millar have thrown too many balls into the air at once becomes unmistakable. The excess of elements thwarts audience attention.

Though sexual content is absent from the first two installments reviewed, gruesome images and some crude expressions put the program strictly off-limits for kids. Mature teens, by contrast, may take these eerie and earthy ingredients more or less in stride. Like adults, however, they’ll probably find it difficult to stay focused on Wednesday’s overly disparate doings.

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Is the series ‘Wednesday’ a blessing to Christian teens?

Ellie Willcock

Ellie Willock assesses whether this spin off from the Addams family has any merit


Netflix series: Wednesday

Other connected films/TV shows: The Addams Family (1964), The Addams Family (1991)

Running length: 50 minutes

Genre: Comedy/Crime/Fantasy

Overview: Wednesday Addams is a student; sarcastic, witty and dark. She begins to attend Nevermore Academy and quickly finds herself immersed in a mystery that includes her family as well as coming to terms with being a psychic.

What I liked: The series is very well written for teenagers. The characters are all individuals with traits that people can relate to, while also enjoying the twist of the way they have a power. The storyline is easy to follow and incorporates a ‘normal’ level of teenage angst alongside the dark comedy that makes up the mystery. It has dramatic scenes that you expect from the thriller genre but there is a humourous edge that makes it more fun to watch. The series flows nicely and gives some of the characters a clearly defined arc which is interesting to pick up on as well as adds more to the story. The humour gives you small pieces to smile about while focusing on the main plot. It eases the mystery and darker parts of the episodes to give it more life and energy and makes it easier to watch with teenagers. The acting within the series is fantastic: each person playing an excellent role that hides the twists and keeps the surprise well hidden.

What I didn’t like: While the comedy lifts the story, there are a few plainly dark bits. The language that is used can be rather cruel and there is a lot of violence that some younger viewers may find scary. As a fan of the 1960s TV show I found it a little strange to have the characters act in ways not in keeping with the original so viewers must be prepared for a stand alone series with only slight connections to the  Addams Family franchise. The series climbs rather slowly to its climax, spread over eight episodes the ending seems a little all over the place and sudden compared to the rest of the series.

Thoughts for parents: There is plenty for parents to talk about with their teens. Wednesday is seen as different in a new school that - despite everyone being unique - still has its own cliques. The underlying feeling is that all teenagers are trying to find themselves, figure out who they are and how they should be. It also delves into history with its connection to pilgrims and witch hunting. This can be a interesting point of teenagers to delve into as parents explain to children how fear of difference can lead to suffering, and what Christians believe about the supernatural.

The series also highlights the struggle of growing up, of hormones becomin a factor in mood swings and the struggle that a lot of teenagers face when it comes to their parents and speaking to them about issues that concern them. Parents can view it from their child’s perspective and address the issues of hopelessness and isolation that is also present in the series while still appreciating the sarcasm and irony that comes through the acting.

3 stars

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If looks could kill, this would be a very short series indeed … Jenna Ortega as Wednesday.

Wednesday review – Tim Burton’s witty Addams Family spin-off is perfect

This Netflix series transports Wednesday Addams into a whole new fantasy realm of her own. It’s creepy, charming and has a lead who more than matches Christina Ricci

I don’t know what the world’s coming to. You denude one bullying high-school jock of just one testicle (at a swim meet, with piranhas) and suddenly you’re packed off to a boarding school full of weirdos and outcasts.

My heart goes out to young Wednesday Addams (Jenna Ortega), whose fate this is in the opening scenes of the latest Addams Family reinvention – a Netflix series simply called Wednesday. Ortega has the toughest of acts to follow. Christina Ricci defined the part in The Addams Family then stepped equally definitively up to the plate as the superbly unengaged ur-goth girl in Addams Family Values in 1993. But Ortega holds her own, despite two issues Ricci didn’t have to face. First, Wednesday is now a teen which means none of the deadpan, sarky responses hold quite the same charge as they did coming from a prepubescent. Second, she has to leaven it with some humanity so she can grow over an eight-hour series that is part horror story and part murder mystery but mostly a coming-of-age tale with classic tropes of high-school drama. Ricci played affectless to perfection, but she was in an ensemble cast and only had to hold our attention for a few scenes at a time. Ortega has to keep us with her all the way – and she does.

So, Wednesday enacts her piscatory revenge on the boys who were picking on little brother Pugsley, and, after the resultant expulsion, is sent to Nevermore Academy – the alma mater of her mother Morticia (Catherine Zeta-Jones). The school is run by an icily unsettling headteacher Larissa Weems (Gwendoline Christie), who was also a pupil there with Morticia, and who makes her mutinous new charge roommate with peppy student Enid Sinclair (Emma Myers). “Are you OK?” says Enid at their introduction. “You look a bit pale.” If looks could kill, Wednesday would have been a very short series indeed. Their dorm mother, Miss Thornhill – played by Ricci herself, as if in benediction – visits them in the evening to see how they’re getting on. “She’s been smothering me with hospitality,” Wednesday assures her. “I hope to return the favour. In her sleep.”

Enid gives her a Clueless/Mean Girls-style tour of Nevermore’s cliques – there are the Fangs (vampires), Furs (werewolves), Stoners (gorgons) and Scales (sirens – led by the meanest girl Bianca, played with terrifying aplomb by Joy Sunday). She also offers tips for navigating her new school and introductions to some of the characters that will become central to the mysteries Wednesday will soon find herself investigating. These include: a number of killings in the local town of Jericho and surrounding woodland by what the police are finding it increasingly hard to deny must be a monster; possible attempts on Wednesday’s own life; the suggestion that her father Gomez (Luis Guzmán) committed murder himself in his youth; and whatever Wednesday’s visions – seemingly fragments of the future – are trying to tell her. Oh, and what of the sketches inside the books in the secret basement that seem to show the future? And student artist Xavier (Percy Hynes White), who can make his pictures come alive? And, don’t tell me there’s nothing more to Dr Kinbott (Riki Lindhome), the therapist in charge of Wednesday’s court-mandated counselling sessions, than meets the eye.

There are also teenage crushes, nascent relationships, a prom, secret societies and other “normie” stuff to negotiate. But, creators Alfred Gough and Miles Millar also gave us Smallville , and know how to handle multiple plotlines crisscrossing the real and supernatural worlds. Plus, the show’s main director is Tim Burton, who knows a bit about this kind of thing too – and gives the whole thing the eldritch-tinged aesthetic it needs.

It loses something by not setting Wednesday against normality, as the films did, and by having a more fissured version of the Addams clan. The love and unity of the family against the world was always one of the great pleasures, in whatever incarnation you met them. But it has enough wit, charm and propulsive energy for that not to matter as much as it might have. Certainly, the 11-year-old I keep on hand to test programmes aimed at the younger demographic was rapt for the whole series, and proclaimed himself deeply satisfied by both its resolutions and its cliffhanger.

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One last point. Another great strength of the films was that the Addams parents (Anjelica Huston and Raul Julia) were still hot for each other and each as idiosyncratically attractive as the other. It was such a refreshing change from the standard “comic” arrangement whereby a great beauty is in thrall to an unregenerate schlub. In this pairing, we have regressed entirely. In every scene involving the new Morticia and Gomez, I miss that tiny point of progress more than I would have thought. There are so few that I’m always sorry to see one go.

  • Christina Ricci

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Season 1 – Wednesday

Where to watch, wednesday — season 1.

Watch Wednesday — Season 1 with a subscription on Netflix, or buy it on Prime Video, Apple TV.

What to Know

Wednesday isn't exactly full of woe for viewers, but without Jenna Ortega in the lead, this Addams Family -adjacent series might as well be another CW drama.

Cast & Crew

Alfred Gough

Miles Millar

Jenna Ortega

Wednesday Addams

Gwendoline Christie

Larissa Weems

Riki Lindhome

Dr. Valerie Kinbott

Jamie McShane

Sheriff Donovan Galpin

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Tv news & guides, this show is featured in the following articles., critics reviews, audience reviews, season info.

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Stream It Or Skip It: ‘Wednesday’ on Netflix, A Sharp Modern Take on the Eldest Addams Sibling

Sydney sweeney savvily shows off her scream queen chops in 'immaculate', neve campbell makes surprise return to 'scream' franchise after exiting over pay dispute, in 'miller's girl,' is jenna ortega pushing back against her teenage roles, or playing with fire, laverne cox botches hannah waddingham's name (twice) during cringe interview on e's emmys red carpet show.

The Addams Family (snap, snap) has been a hallmark of the horror-loving crowd for years. Whether in the form of the classic TV series or the live-action films, people can’t seem to get enough of this macabre family. Matriarch Morticia and the fiery Gomez may be the reasons some fans are so into the property, but it’s the eldest Addams sister who’s otherwise captured viewers’ attention: Wednesday. Though played to perfection by Christina Ricci in the past, the torch has been passed to a newcomer for Netflix’s add-adaptation. Is she fit to wear Wednesday’s all-black wardrobe?


Opening Shot: We see the exterior of Nancy Reagan High School and teens milling about. In walks Wednesday Addams, clad in black and in contrast to her fellow students. She walks down the hallway to find brother Pugsley stuffed in a locker with an apple in his mouth, freeing him from the bondage his bullies trapped him in.

The Gist: Wednesday (Jenna Ortega) has finally done it. After being expelled one too many times from high school after high school (her most recent offense being a pool full of piranhas with the swim team inside it), she’s finally being moved somewhere more “appropriate”. Gomez and Morticia (Luis Guzmán and Catherine Zeta-Jones) decide to send her to their own boarding school, Nevermore Academy.

There, Wednesday can be among those who are “like her”, and by that the show means werewolves, vampires, and all manner of other supernatural creatures, despite Wednesday being none of that herself. It’s all about being an “outcast” or a “normie” there, and you can guess which one Wednesday is.

But just as she’s resigning herself to her new life at Nevermore, Wednesday realizes something more serious than her flagrant disregard for authority is going on: murder. And some school gossip, or whatever. That part’s unimportant. What is important is the fact that Wednesday may be the only one at the academy who can help solve the mysterious deaths that keep occurring. And look good in monochromatic outfits.

What Shows Will It Remind You Of? While of course we can draw comparisons to other versions of The Addams Family , Wednesday feels more in tune with shows like Riverdale or even the modern Nancy Drew . Yeah, it’s all about the mysteries here, and coming of age at a new school. It’s a new frontier for Wednesday.

Our Take: Overall, Wednesday is a fun departure from the typical “let’s remake The Addams Family” mode that creators often find themselves in. Its approach is novel and Jenna Ortega is a breath of fresh air in the role. Giving Wednesday a purpose beyond being dark and gloomy with a chip on her shoulder gives even the most hardcore fan a reason to tune in to see what she’ll do next on her mission to get out of Nevermore Academy – oh, and figure out who’s behind that string of murders.

Sure, it’s strange to turn Wednesday into a sleuth just like all the other shows you can think of starring snarky teens, but somehow it works here, even though it would have made much more sense to keep Miss Addams with her family as we do end up missing that dynamic a bit. Still, there’s a whole new world to explore at Nevermore with strange new characters you won’t be able to figure out right away. That element of the unknown already elevates the series into something more promising.

And Ortega pulls off her role with an astounding amount of grace and creativity, considering she already had such massive shoes to fill in Ricci’s place, though the actress does have her own character to play in Wednesday as Nevermore alum Marilyn Thornhill. It’s Ortega’s star power alone that helps drive this series from the very beginning into something that could have been mediocre into a totally watchable and exciting twist on a familiar franchise.

It isn’t all good, of course, as most of the dialogue is absolutely awful and sounds nothing like the way teens would actually communicate with each other. But these things can be overlooked, even if they do drag what should be regarded as higher-level Netflix-quality content down to The CW’s level. But overall, it’s a fun show that younger viewers will undoubtedly flock to, even with its occasionally cringe approach to worldbuilding and establishing scenes.

Sex and Skin: None in this episode, and likely none to come.

Parting Shot: Wednesday comes face to face with the very creature that looks to be causing the deaths that have been unaccounted for around Nevermore. And with a piece to the puzzle under her belt, she retreats to her room to look over her new set of clues. When her parents contact her to discuss her first week at Nevermore, she recounts the events she’s been through — admitting she “thinks she’s going to love it here” before grinning at the camera.

Sleeper Star: Emma Myers is perfectly grating as Enid Sinclair, Wednesday’s roommate at Nevermore Academy. She’s a colorful foil to Wednesday’s dark personality and style, and somehow she manages to say the right thing every single time to be completely and hopelessly irritating. Myers knocks it out of the park as this character, especially when given some horrific dialogue that in no way, shape or form sounds like a teenager would say it. She’s fantastic in this role, which speaks to her acting chops, because somehow she manages to endear herself to you in the first episode, even when she really shouldn’t.

Most Pilot-y Line: After Wednesday is expelled from her “normal” high school, she makes it clear to her parents she doesn’t want to be like them, which effectively forecasts her approach to Nevermore Academy. “I have no interest in following in your footsteps,” an indignant Wednesday replies. “Becoming captain of the fencing team, Queen of the Dark Prom, President of the Séance Society.”

Our Call: STREAM IT. The Addams Family has long captivated audiences, especially Wednesday’s macabre style and deadpan demeanor. While this adaptation makes some strange decisions, it ends up working in a weird way, which will interest both old and new viewers. Just try to ignore some of the “fellow teens” dialogue from time to time, which is here in abundance.

Brittany Vincent has been covering video games and tech for over a decade for publications like G4, Popular Science, Playboy, Variety, IGN, GamesRadar, Polygon, Kotaku, Maxim, GameSpot, and more. When she’s not writing or gaming, she’s collecting retro consoles and tech. Follow her on Twitter: @MolotovCupcake .

  • Jenna Ortega
  • Stream It Or Skip It
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wednesday christian movie review

Movie Reviews

Tv/streaming, collections, great movies, chaz's journal, contributors, netflix's wednesday combines teen angst and murder.

wednesday christian movie review

Netflix’s Addams Family series “Wednesday” successfully combines two genres in a way that makes more sense than most—the teen coming-of-age story and the murder-mystery plot. Over the last decade or so, there’s been a lot of shows that have merged the two, using violence to juice up the general teen fair of crushes, college admissions, and meddlesome parents. But where shows like “ Riverdale ” can feel forced to the point of silliness, “Wednesday” succeeds thanks to its familiar protagonist and her macabre-loving family.

Fans of the Addams clan get plenty of service in this eight-part series. Thing, the living, moving severed hand, is a full-fledged character with ongoing gags about skincare and manicures, plus an (only metaphysical) heart of his own. Fred Armisen shows up for episode seven as Uncle Fester, winkingly playing the bald criminal. And the show plays with the highly sexually charged dynamic between Morticia ( Catherine Zeta-Jones ) and Gomez ( Luis Guzmán ). There’s even a bit with the two snaps from the famous theme song. For those with only a passing affection for the Addams family or the aesthetic of executive producer and director of half the episodes, Tim Burton , some of these bits may come to grate (we get it—they’re dark!). But there’s enough other stuff for fans and non-fans to enjoy.

Jenna Ortega 's performance as Wednesday elevates the series above pure nostalgia. She’s become a force in horror thanks to roles in 2022’s “Scream,” A24’s “ X ,” and Netflix’s “You” but while Wednesday may fancy herself to be living in a scary movie, her adventures are less blood-drenched and more camp comedy. Ortega excels in the role, leaning into a deadpan humor made all the funnier by her character’s lack of interest in anything approaching laughter.

The show’s directors get a lot of mileage out of Jenna Ortega ’s physicality, particularly in the high school dance scene, where she manages to own the floor while staying true to her dark nature. And it’s not just for comedy—more than once, we see the smallness of her body on the screen as she faces off again forces much bigger than her. These angles give her confrontations extra power, marking her as an underdog even as her superior insight and tenacity set her up to be the story's clear winner.

wednesday christian movie review

The show also leverages classic teen tropes to bring lightness to its dark halls, starting with the “ Clueless ” tour of the cliques at Wednesday’s new school. There’s also a convoluted sporting event that's a clear parallel to Harry Potter’s Quidditch . The aforementioned prom/dance comes complete with a (what else?) “ Carrie ” moment. And there’s so much more—the stuffy headmistress, the love triangle, the secret society.

Along the way, everything works. The mystery is hard to figure out but clearly in place all along and concludes satisfactorily. The action is suspenseful with real danger looming for likable (if mostly side) characters. And the social commentary—about the vileness of settler colonialism—is gratifying. 

Adding to these elements is Wednesday’s evolution out of, or at least through teen angst. She’s extremely sure of herself but with plenty of growing up to do. That makes her both an extraordinary and typical teen, someone who thinks they know everything while continuously being made to learn more. Over the series, we see her come to better understand her parents (even her mother!) as she comes into a more mature, less knee-jerk contradictory understanding of herself.

It’s rare to see a show so successfully mix coming-to-age character development with gross and gory ghouls and a serial murder plot on top of it all. By the end, I was smiling broadly, happy to have been back with these old friends and witnessing their familiar, family-driven hijinks. 

If there’s ever a character for whom death and darkness don’t weigh her down but are a normal part of her high school years, it’s Wednesday Addams. And Netflix’s “Wednesday” makes the most of its heroine’s unique disposition.

All eight episodes screened for review. "Wednesday" premieres on Netflix on November 23rd.

Cristina Escobar

Cristina Escobar

Cristina Escobar is the co-founder of LatinaMedia.Co, a digital publication uplifting Latina and gender non-conforming Latinx perspectives in media.

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Wednesday: Season 1 Review

It really is creepy and kooky..

Amelia Emberwing Avatar

This is a spoiler-free review of Wednesday, which hits Netflix Nov 23.

In the pantheon of perfect casting, Jenna Ortega as Wednesday Addams belongs alongside the likes of Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark and Patrick Stewart as Charles Xavier. Netflix’s new series, Wednesday, gives Ortega a creepy and kooky playing ground that she makes her own with ease, a few bumps in the road notwithstanding.

Since it’s not quite an adaptation, sequel, or reboot of the Addams Family films or series, Wednesday largely gets to create its world on its own terms. There is plenty of homage paid to Charles Addams’ hauntingly hilarious family with a sincere love for outcasts on full display throughout.

Tim Burton (director of episodes 1-4) and legendary composer Danny Elfman continue to go together like peanut butter and jelly, but don’t expect Wednesday to be as extravagant as some of Burton’s zanier fare. It’s trite, but “creepy and kooky” really are the perfect descriptors here. There’s some delightful gore throughout the series, but there’s also a lot of fluff. It’s difficult to balance the two, but showrunners Alfred Gough and Miles Millar manage with a decent amount of success.

Ortega’s performance as Wednesday definitely plays a major role in that success. Given the character’s apathy and generally morose disposition, it can be hard to bring believable energy to the table. However, Ortega’s ability to act with her eyes and the choice to save the few emotional moments for when they really matter make Wednesday an effective lead. At this point we expect Gwendoline Christie to be exceptional (which she is), but Joy Sunday’s Bianca Barclay and Emma Myers’ Enid Sinclair deserve honorable mentions as well.

What's the best Addams Family movie?

It’s always a bummer when you’re forced to give a little bit of credibility to preemptive internet backlash, but the only performance that doesn’t work is Luis Guzmán. It’s not the look that folks were gnashing their teeth over — Guzmán and the costume department handled that just fine! However, whether it’s due to direction or the actor struggling to talk around the dentures he wears in character, he simply doesn’t meet the charisma requirements for Gomez Addams. Still, Gomez and the rest of the Addams Family are in Wednesday a pretty limited amount, so don’t worry about this pulling too much from the story.

What does pull from the story, however, are the characterizations of the milquetoast boys surrounding Wednesday Addams. By no fault of Hunter Doohan or Percy Hynes White, Tyler and Xavier (who the actors play respectively) are absolutely the most boring, bland, sentient pieces of soggy bread since the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina’s Harvey Kinkle. At no point are the struggles or obsessions around these young men believable. Meanwhile, while Sunday does what she can with queen bee Bianca, her infinitely more interesting story plays on in the background while Tyler and Xavier are front and center in favor of a dull love triangle that even Wednesday has no interest being part of.

Still, Wednesday is quite the success. It’s a fun, silly, and sometimes gory introduction for budding young horror fans who are looking for a step up from Scooby-Doo. Elfman’s score is a stunner, as always, and the set design is just the right amount of over-the-top. Putting friendship first is a difficult challenge for Wednesday to master, but her relationship with new bestie Enid is believable and heartwarming (but don’t tell Wednesday that).

Netflix Spotlight: November 2022

Click through for a spotlight on some of the most notable November 2022 Netflix releases.

Wednesday introduces a whole new generation to the Addams family with creepy and kooky hijinks and an incredible performance from Jenna Ortega. Some tertiary characters struggle from weak writing while more interesting players are kept on the sidelines, but it’s not enough to bog down the series too much.

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'Wednesday' Review: A More Chilling Spin on the Creepy, Kooky Addams Family

The Netflix series is a darker-than-usual take that never loses sight of its heart, humor, and horror.

The creepy and kooky Addams Family, arguably the First Family of spooky season, have had a perpetual presence in popular culture over the decades. After getting their start in Charles Addams ' New Yorker comics in the '30s, and debuting onscreen in the 1964 television series The Addams Family , they make their return to the small screen this November with Netflix's supernatural teen drama Wednesday .

Rather than focusing on the family as a whole, the series instead centers on teenage daughter Wednesday Addams, played to woeful perfection by Jenna Ortega , as she is expelled from yet another school and sent by her parents Gomez ( Luis Guzmán ) and Morticia ( Catherine Zeta-Jones ) to Nevermore Academy, the same school where the two of them met and fell in love. As much as she thrives in darkness, Wednesday bristles at the idea of being expected to live in the significant shadow cast by her parents, and her mother in particular, who was as much of a social butterfly overachiever as it's possible to be in a school proudly populated by outcasts.

Wednesday's arrival at Nevermore is anything but easy. She is placed in her mother's old dorm alongside Enid ( Emma Myers ), a late-blooming werewolf who loves bright colors as much as Wednesday loves various shades of black and gray. Though their different personalities lead to friction at first, in the manner of all good coming-of-age stories, the two start to realize they might be stronger together than they are apart. Also making settling in somewhat difficult are the two mysteries that may or may not be connected, but both of which somehow trace back to Nevermore and the surrounding town of Jericho. The first is a case that may or may not involve someone close to Wednesday, while the other — arguably more pressing — is the issue of the gruesome murders taking place around town.

RELATED: 'Wednesday': Tim Burton Celebrates the Creation of Nevermore Academy in New Featurette

Unlike the earlier TV incarnations, including the 1992 animated series and the 1998 live-action series The New Addams Family (a campy staple of my own childhood), Wednesday does not follow a problem-of-the-week format, opting instead for a season-long supernatural mystery in the vein of Stranger Things , or The Hardy Boys . Unlike those earlier incarnations as well, the series really leans into the horror-adjacent aspect that has always surrounded the Addams family, but which earlier incarnations never fully explored. While this is definitely a show the whole family can watch together, there is just enough horror and gore to really earn that TV-14 rating.

Where Wednesday really thrives is in its cast. Ortega, Guzmán, and Zeta-Jones, as well as Isaac Ordonez , who plays Pugsley Addams, are picture-perfect choices, looking like the Charles Addams cartoons come to life. The entire family takes these beloved characters and truly makes them their own, maintaining the aspects that have made the kooky Addams so recognizable over the decades, while infusing them with an energy that breathes fresh life into the role. As quirky Uncle Fester, Fred Armisen is a source of some needed comedic relief, with a deadpan cheerful delivery that pays homage to Jackie Coogan 's take on the part back in 1964.

As far as new characters, the series also stars Gwendoline Christie as Nevermore headmistress Principal Weems and Riki Lindhome as Wednesday's court-mandated therapist Dr. Kinbott. They, alongside Wednesday's Nevermore classmates Bianca ( Joy Sunday ), Xavier ( Percy Hynes White ), and Ajax ( Georgie Farmer ), as well as Hunter Doohan as the sheriff's "normie" son Tyler, really round things out and make the show a cross between a supernatural mystery series and a high school drama. Because all the trappings of a high school drama — school dances, trouble with crushes, after-school clubs, and fitting in — are present, albeit with a gloomy, spiderweb-covered gloss.

Of course, the true highlight of the ensemble cast — for diehard Addams fans, anyway — is former Wednesday Addams herself Christina Ricci , who plays Ms. Thornhill, one of Wednesday's Nevermore teachers. Though the two do share quite a few scenes, and though there are references to the wider meta of The Addams Family throughout (except for the tragic absence of the catchy theme song), I applaud the creative team for resisting the urge to make Ricci's Wednesday history too obvious.

Previous incarnations of The Addams Family have always focused on the family as a whole, either dealing with their own interpersonal drama or more frequently casting them in a sort of "us versus them" situation, "them" being conventional society. That conflict is still very present in Wednesday , with the teenagers of Nevermore Academy looked at with skepticism and fear by the town of Jericho. With eight episodes devoted to the mysteries that connect the town and the school, the series has time to dive into this divide with some nuance beyond the idea that one of the two sides is objectively "wrong."

My biggest fear, as someone who has seen and loved every incarnation of The Addams Family , was that the undercurrent of family and love and support present in every version would be lost in Wednesday in favor of a grittier take on the well-known characters. After all, this would not be the first time decades-old characters got an unrecognizable makeover ( Riverdale comes to mind). But while the Addams are not quite the rock-solid unit they are in perhaps the best-known adaptations, 1991's The Addams Family and 1993's The Addams Family Values , it's very clear that they do care about each other.

Ultimately, despite being a darker-than-usual take on The Addams Family , Wednesday retains all the hallmarks that make the stories and the characters special. It succeeds very well at pushing the story outside its usual genre and into something a little more grown-up, and a little more supernatural, but never loses sight of the heart, humor, and kooky horror that have kept us all double-snapping for decades.

Wednesday hits Netflix on November 23, which is — appropriately — a Wednesday.

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Wednesday Review: Netflix’s New Take on the Addams Family Isn’t Altogether Ooky, But It’s More Teen Than Scream

Dave nemetz, west coast bureau chief.

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wednesday christian movie review

Wednesday does have a sharp bite to it, capturing the Gothic charm of the Addams Family movies. Ortega is terrific as Wednesday, nearly equaling the deadpan perfection of Christina Ricci with her deliciously dark one-liners. (“Sartre said hell is other people. He was my first crush.”) Catherine Zeta-Jones is also exquisitely well-cast as Morticia, but Luis Guzman doesn’t really work as Gomez — and that doesn’t matter all that much anyway, because the rest of the Addams family are limited to mere cameos, except for disembodied hand Thing. This is Wednesday’s show, and the rest of the characters don’t quite measure up, although Gwendoline Christie ( Game of Thrones ) clearly understands the assignment as the school’s meddlesome Principal Weems. Ricci herself pops up as dorm mom Marilyn Thornhill, which is a cute bit of stunt casting, but she isn’t given much to do.

Wednesday Netflix Gwendoline Christie Principal Weems

In its structure and tone, Wednesday is actually closest to another Netflix drama, the late Chilling Adventures of Sabrina , but it’s missing that show’s dark magic. Ortega is truly great as Wednesday — she’s a star in the making — but the show slows to a crawl when she’s off-screen. In the end, it feels less like an Addams Family show than yet another disappointingly familiar YA murder mystery trying to piggyback off of well-known IP. The most damning thing I can say about Wednesday is that Wednesday Addams herself would probably hate it.

THE TVLINE BOTTOM LINE: Netflix’s Wednesday has a ghoulish tone and a superb lead performance, but the story is strictly cookie-cutter YA mystery.

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Yeah, I was afraid of this. Tim Burton is always at his best when he’s serving up original creations, like Edward Scissorhands or Beetlejuice, but he’s often at his worst when he tries to adapt somebody else’s material: Dark Shadows, Willy Wonka, Planet of the Apes. It always sounds like it’s going to be the perfect fit— and the Addams Family likewise sounds on paper like it would be a good match for Burton’s style— but he never ends up seeming to get a good grasp on what made those properties beloved in the first place. I just wish he’d go back to coming up with his own ideas.

I was wary of this, but then I also figured it has a certain advantage of releasing on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. It probably is a fine show to watch as a passenger in a car or other transport on your laptop or phone, or while you are packing up to go somewhere or do meal prep and housework for guests to come. Like, I am not going to venture into 1899 until I get back when I have nothing else to distract me for a weekend. I mean, this weekend I have stuff to do and Dead to Me and the first three episodes of Leverage are all I can focus on.

This is exactly what I was worried about. I had the feeling it was going to veer too far into Riverdale/Sabrina territory, which I absolutely did not want. I’m still gonna check it out, but it’s sounding like this was a huge missed opportunity.

I’m not really surprised, Miller and Gough have never really impressed me as writers. The only thing I’d point to that their names are on that’s truly great is spider-man 2 and they didn’t write the screenplay. Smallville spent most of its run treading water, pushing things forward so slowly but with so little planning put in that it made the star wars sequel trilogy look like Shakespeare. The concept for this is interesting enough but better writers were needed clearly.

Tim Burton = garbage.

Hottest of Hot Takes.

Eh, I’ve never been a Tim Burton fan, but I really wanted to like this. The trailer wasn’t my favorite. I did like the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, so I’m still going to give this a try. I’m always partial to a supernatural element and a mystery.

I never listen to these self-proclaimed critics. I look forward to jumping back into this world of the Adams Family. Judge for yourself weather this is any good. Don’t let critics decide for you. Anyway, looking forward to the show. Hope you are too.

100% agree. I learned this with M. Night Shyamalan’s movies. He’s a favorite of mine.

Unfortunate. He was behind two of my favorite Christmas movies yet he botched one of the most iconic characters in 90’s media.

Yeah, I was worried about this. Miles Miller’s & Alfred Gough’s Smallville was a confounding show. Most of the episodes were average, with some being straight-up awful. But then they would do two or three a season that were absolutely brilliant. Sounds like we’re getting average here. . I’ll still watch it, though. It looks fun.

I love love the show and hope there’s another season coming hopefully there’s more surprise and more twists the delicious Dark dramatyk

Just finished the season and this review got it sooo wrong. It was great!

I just finished it, and it is really, REALLY good, undoubtedly the best new Series on Netflix. Lots of expectations when Tim Burton put his Name on this Series, but kudos to him and his Creative Team for delivering the Goods big time. It just so good on so many levels, first is that it is not only about the Dark Humor and quick, witty Dialogue, there is a lot of multi-level Storytelling also involved, giving most of the Characters a lot of depth. A lot of talk about how Jenna Ortega was absolutely perfect for the Role, but for me it just wasn’t her, most of the other Actors and Actresses also did very well, helping contribute to just how good this Show is.

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Dust off the cobwebs, the Addams family is back.

The latest rendition is the new Netflix series “Wednesday,” a teen high school dramedy with episodes directed by Tim Burton.

Premiering Nov. 23, it’s a supernatural mystery about Wednesday Addams’ time as a student at the boarding school Nevermore Academy, where her parents met and fell in love.

At this institution for “outcasts, freaks and monsters,” cynical goth girl Wednesday (Jenna Ortega, “ Jane the Virgin ”) tries to control her budding psychic abilities; navigate relationships with her classmates and tensions between the school and the local town; deal with her cheerful roommate Enid (Emma Myers); and solve a mystery her parents were involved in two decades ago.

Oh, and there’s a monster too.

Jenna Ortega playing a cello.

Her classmates include queen-bee type Bianca (Joy Sunday) and sensitive boy Xavier (Percy Hynes White) — but as a twist, many of them are werewolves, vampires and sirens. 

The cast is rounded out with Catherine Zeta-Jones as matriarch Morticia Addams, Luis Guzman as Gomez and Fred Armisen as Uncle Fester. Gwendoline Christie (“Game of Thrones”) stars as the school’s headmistress, Larissa Weems, who was Morticia’s roommate years ago.

As a tip of the cap, Christina Ricci (who played Wednesday in the 1991 movie “The Addams Family” and 1993’s “Addams Family Values”) plays Marilyn Thornhill, the “dorm mom” who checks in on the students. 

Luis Guzmán as Gomez Addams, Catherine Zeta-Jones as Morticia Addams, Issac Ordonez as Pugsley Addams in "Wednesday" stand and smile.

The Addams family has been the subject of a slew of media for decades, including comics, other TV shows (such as a live-action series in 1964 and an animated series in 1973) and the ’90s movies, which also starred Anjelica Huston.

The biggest shock of this eight-episode series is that it’s Burton’s first stab at the franchise. His fingerprints are all over “Wednesday,” which brims with his signature mix of the whimsical, the weird and the macabre.

Although the existence of this show seems superfluous, if “Star Wars” and the MCU get to do countless spinoffs about tertiary characters , why not have “Wednesday” join the fray? 

That said, the show is a mixed bag. While Wednesday is a fun side character in previous Addams family stories, and Ortega plays her with deadpan charm, she isn’t the most riveting protagonist.

It gets tedious to watch someone constantly sneer at everything. And some of the dialogue feels like the show is trying too hard, such as Wednesday saying, “I find social media to be a soul-sucking void of meaningless affirmation.” (The show’s creators, Alfred Gough and Miles Millar, are “Smallville” alumni.)

Catherine Zeta-Jones as Morticia Adams, Luis Guzmán as Gomez Addams in "Wednesday" hold hands and smile at each other sitting in a car.

But the side characters and the world are fun, and this could usher in a new generation of fans who might not have watched previous versions of “The Addams Family,” but who want a show that’s in a similar vein of the more recent “The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.”

Audiences who are hungry for a well-rounded look at the family might be disappointed, since this show is focused on its titular character, with Morticia and Gomez on the sidelines. They do get some scenery-chewing moments, though, with Morticia breathily commenting, “At least it’s a beautiful day out” during a thunderstorm. 

“Wednesday” doesn’t have much to offer to viewers who aren’t interested in high school antics that other shows have done better. But it’s still a treat for those who wondered what Burton’s version of this world might look like.

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‘Bless These Books’: How Karen Kingsbury Is Extending the Reach of Christian Fiction

She’s sold more than 25 million copies, but isn’t slowing down. An Amazon series and a film getting wide distribution mark a new phase.

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A portrait of Karen Kingsbury shows a middle-aged blonde woman in black, wearing a gold necklace and sitting in a high-backed beige chair in front of a large window. A picturesque garden can be seen through the window.

By Alexis Soloski

Reporting from Nashville

In the early years of her career, the novelist Karen Kingsbury often prayed for success. “Lord,” she would say, “bless these books beyond anything I could ask or imagine. Let them be bigger than anything I could envision and let them change culture.”

Was it right to pray for something so worldly? Kingsbury, seated at a table in the well-appointed kitchen of her home in an upscale suburb here, smiled. The question was perhaps naïve. “I feel like it’s OK,” she explained. “God knows what you’re thinking anyway, you know?”

Kingsbury, 60, has long been hailed as the queen of Christian fiction . That is perhaps a slender crown. Until fairly recently, Christian fiction was siloed from the mainstream market, sold only at specialty bookstores. Crossover authors were rare, and as with the writers of “This Present Darkness,” “The Shack” and the “Left Behind” series, almost exclusively male. Will Kingsbury join them?

“Depending on what you think of as the mainstream market, I think she already has,” Daniel Silliman, a news editor at Christianity Today, said.

The author or coauthor of nearly 100 books, she has sold more than 25 million copies , according to Simon and Schuster (Its Atria imprint has published her latest novels). Three of her books have become Hallmark movies. A fourth, “A Thousand Tomorrows,” was adapted as a series for the faith-based streaming site Great American Pure Flix .

On the flight to Nashville, my seatmate, a nurse and a practicing Catholic, clocking my reading material, confessed her love for Kingsbury. “Her books make me happy and they give me peace,” she said. My ride-share driver knew her, too. Still, she is not yet a household name.

“I’m not John Grisham,” she said. “I’m not Nicholas Sparks.”

That may change. This week, Amazon Prime Video premieres “The Baxters,” a three-season adaptation of Kingsbury’s most popular series, produced by Roma Downey and Mark Burnett’s Lightworkers Media. And on April 2, Kingsbury’s new production company will release the romantic drama “Someone Like You” into 1,500 theaters, which may markedly increase her visibility.

That day in March, Kingsbury wore a sapphire-blue coat and a matching flowered necklace, intimations of spring. Her daisy-yellow hair fell in gentle ripples and in the hours we spent together I lost count of her offers of tea, coffee, pastries, fruit, chicken in various preparations. (Later, she wouldn’t let me leave without a baggie full of apples and string cheese.)

Entwined with this maternal energy is a rigor that has allowed her to write as many as five books each year while raising six children — three biological, three adopted as boys from Haiti — with her husband, Donald Russell.

“I’m compassionate,” she said. “But I’m competitive and I’m passionate and not passive.” Still, she tends to downplay that drive, crediting God’s grace.

A few hours before I arrived, the marketing team at Amazon had called to tell her that “The Baxters” would have a billboard overlooking Sunset Boulevard. “It does feel like an answer to a prayer,” she said. “I just feel like I can almost see God smiling.” Then she offered cookies.

Kingsbury grew up mostly in the San Fernando Valley; her voice still carries that sunshine lilt. She matriculated at Cal State Northridge, pursuing a journalism degree. The Los Angeles Times hired her onto its sports desk before she graduated, even though she knew nothing about sports.

A few years later she was poached by the Los Angeles Daily News. Around that time, at the gym, she met Russell, a clean-cut trainee teacher who insisted on bringing a Bible to their dates. Kingsbury, who had never read the Bible, found Russell infuriating. She also found him cute. Eventually, she bought her own Bible and a concordance, mostly so that she could prove to him that the Bible didn’t prohibit premarital sex.

Soon, she and Russell were baptized. Then they were married. She was pregnant six months later. An agent reached out and a contract for a nonfiction book, based on one of her newspaper crime stories, followed. Kingsbury wrote that book and three more. But the work, which relied on interviews with accused killers and grieving families, wore her down. So she tried fiction, taking 10 days off to write “Where Yesterday Lives,” inspired by her childhood.

Her publisher, Dell, didn’t want it. Other mainstream publishers passed, too. Kingsbury didn’t know much about Christian fiction. “I thought it sounded cheesy,” she said. But when a friend gave her a copy of Francine Rivers’s 1991 book “Redeeming Love,” a classic of Christian romance, Kingsbury intuited that her books might find welcome there. She was correct—“Where Yesterday Lives” was published by Multnomah, a small Christian imprint, in 1998. Still, she resisted that label, exchanging “Christian fiction” for “inspirational fiction,” then trademarking her own term, “life-changing fiction.”

Kingsbury writes quickly. That 10 days per book? It’s an average, not an outlier. (She once wrote a book in four days; she doesn’t recommend it.) Each begins with an idea, usually drawn from her own life. “I go through a day looking for miracles, looking for moments, looking for people,” she said. She spends about a week researching and another week outlining. Then she writes 10,000 words per day, typically in six hours, faster than most of us can type.

Her son Tyler Russell, who had dropped by for Scrabble and a chat, recalled that while watching his mother write was a feature of his childhood, she always put her family first. “It was never like, ‘Leave me alone. I’m writing,’” he said. “It was like, ‘I’ll sit with you, we’ll watch ‘American Idol’ and write together.’”

Most of Kingsbury’s books are romances, but they are romantic dramas, not romantic comedies. The characters experience terrible things — abuse, addiction, illness, accident. Yet each book ultimately affirms faith and family. Her father, Kingsbury said, coined a term for her genre: “hope operas.”

“It’s not necessarily a romantic happily ever after,” Kaitlin Olson, Kingsbury’s editor at Atria, said. “But these stories end with people coming to terms with themselves and their faith and moving forward.”

Kingsbury’s use of real-life problems distinguishes her from her contemporaries. “She was really early to a broader trend we see now of tackling less sweet topics,” Silliman said. “Not exactly gritty, but more realistic.”

The characters in her novels do reflect a particular reality: They are nearly always Christians, practicing or lapsed, and seemingly all straight. As the mother of three Black children, she does employ some racial diversity.

But she believes that introducing other diversity would feel too forced. “In terms of L.G.B.T.Q. or trans, any of those communities, I’m so removed from that in my day to day, it wouldn’t feel authentic,” she said. “It would just be agenda-ized.”

She is similarly cautious about sensitive issues. “Someone Like You,” for example, deals with in vitro fertilization and embryo adoption, but neatly skirts any political debate.

“I want to be authentic to the issues today, but not so much that it takes you into controversy,” she said.

Still, Kingsbury does have an agenda, or perhaps several agendas. She wants to tell a good story. She wants each book to be better than the last. (“I’m competitive with myself,” she said.) And while she believes that secular readers can enjoy her books, each is an invitation to faith.

“I would hope, when people finish a book, that coming in through the door of the heart — not like a hammer, but like a whisper — is the fact that maybe there’s something more,” she said.

In her first decades in fiction, she passed through many imprints, some owned by major publishing houses, some independent, always pursuing better marketing, better publicity, more ambitious print runs. “During those years, my least favorite place to go was a bookstore,” she said.

Because often the bookstores wouldn’t have her books at all.

That began to change, slowly, with the Baxter novels, which were initially co-written with the relationship expert Gary Smalley. The story of the Baxters begins with “Redemption” (2002), in which Kari Jacobs, née Baxter, the second eldest of five children, discovers that her husband is having an affair with one of his students. Some in her family urge her to divorce him. But Kari, who believes that marriage is a commitment, trusts in God instead.

Those books and the ones that followed increased Kingsbury’s renown and market share. Women began to show up to her readings in homemade “Baxter Babes” T-shirts. Signing lines lasted hours.

Downey, an actress (“Touched by an Angel”) and an advocate for faith-based work, was given “Redemption” years ago. She read it. Then she read all the other books in the series. Downey’s company, Lightworkers, a division of MGM, shot three seasons, in 2017 and 2018. The series languished, seeking a streamer, before finally finding its way to Amazon, which had acquired MGM in 2022, as part of a growing slate of faith-based programming.

The years that the series sat on a virtual shelf pushed Kingsbury to found her own production company, giving her more control over subsequent adaptations. She chose “Someone Like You” as her inaugural project because, as she finished it, she said she heard God say, “This is going to be your first movie.”

Her son and frequent co-writer, Tyler, was recruited to direct. Another son acts in the movie, a third was a production assistant. Each day began with devotion.

Kingsbury would like to make more movies. She is competitive about film, too. And she plans to publish more books, the next three via Forefront, a hybrid of traditional and independent publishing that she will believes will offer more flexibility.

At the moment, as far as her career is concerned, she has little left to pray for.

“There were times in my life when this was just a dream, and then there were times that in the last few years where I could see it coming,” she said. “But now it’s here and I’m ready.”

Alexis Soloski has written for The Times since 2006. As a culture reporter, she covers television, theater, movies, podcasts and new media. More about Alexis Soloski

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Someone Like You

Sarah Fisher and Jake Allyn in Someone Like You (2024)

Based on the novel by #1 NYTimes bestselling author Karen Kingsbury, "Someone Like You" is an achingly beautiful love story. After the tragic loss of his best friend, a grieving young archit... Read all Based on the novel by #1 NYTimes bestselling author Karen Kingsbury, "Someone Like You" is an achingly beautiful love story. After the tragic loss of his best friend, a grieving young architect launches a search for her secret twin sister. Based on the novel by #1 NYTimes bestselling author Karen Kingsbury, "Someone Like You" is an achingly beautiful love story. After the tragic loss of his best friend, a grieving young architect launches a search for her secret twin sister.

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The first omen review: horror prequel criticizes church corruption in effective franchise entry.

The First Omen contains the scary elements from the classics and creative upgrades, resulting in a hit for the horror genre and The Omen franchise.

  • The First Omen goes beyond surface-level storytelling, featuring great visual storytelling.
  • Nell Tiger Free delivers a wonderful leading performance in The First Omen .
  • The film explores themes of church corruption and womanhood, adding layers to classic horror tactics.

Richard Donner’s The Omen took the world by storm when it first premiered in 1976. It told the story of Damien Thorn, a child believed to be the spawn of Satan who would grow up to be the Antichrist. Since then, several sequels and even a 2006 remake have followed, but they never really amounted to the greatness of the first movie. But that all changed with The First Omen , a prequel to the original.

The First Omen is a horror film from director Arkasha Stevenson that acts as a prequel to the 1976 film The Omen. The film follows a young woman who goes to Rome to become a nun but begins to question her faith after encountering a terrifying darkness that aims to spawn an evil incarnate.

  • The First Omen goes beyond surface-level storytelling.
  • Nell Tiger Free gives a wonderful leading performance.
  • Arkasha Stevenson's feature debut comes with great visual storytelling.
  • The editing is a bit jarring at times.

Directed by first-time feature director Arkasha Stevenson, who also co-wrote the screenplay with Keith Thomas and Tim Smith, The First Omen contains the scary elements from the classics and creative upgrades, resulting in a hit for the horror genre and The Omen franchise .

The First Omen Opens With Proper Atmosphere-Building

It sets the tone for the rest of the film and its events.

The First Omen , set in 1971 , starts off with a mysterious and daunting sequence that may produce equal amounts of anxiety and confusion. It’s the perfect beginning to a horror film of this kind, as we’re already familiar with the basics. Yet the mystery surrounding the conversation between Father Brennan (Ralph Ineson) and Father Harris (Charles Dance) is enough to set up the atmosphere. The screenwriters do well by keeping their conversation as vague as possible. And it’s the first reason viewers will focus on the screen and stay glued to their seats.

Where To Watch The First Omen: Showtimes & Streaming Status

Soon after, a young American woman named Margaret (Nell Tiger Free) arrives in Rome, ready to dedicate her life to God by servicing the youth at the Vizzerdeli Orphanage before her vows. In classic horror movie style, most things appear to be normal until she meets Carlita Skianna (Nicole Sorace), an outcast orphan who has been deemed bad by the nuns. Troubling visions and circumstances begin to occur, which sends Margaret on a hunt to uncover the truth. Her investigation unravels a disturbing truth that enables Stevenson to put on a tremendous horror showcase.

The First Omen

The first omen delivers quality themes & entertainment, stevenson's feature debut is a strong one.

The best part about Stevenson’s film is how her directing guides us on a trippy journey that is equally horrifying and emotionally gripping. Even the classic jump scares come with added layers of terror that will leave a lasting picture in your mind. But underneath these standard strategies taken to amplify the mood is a genuinely good story with a theme of church corruption at the center of it all. The script intently focuses on what many people hate about religion: How people use inhumane and violent methods in God’s name even though it goes against His teachings.

Another exceptional theme explored in The First Omen is womanhood, as it relates to body autonomy and purpose. With such a prevalent topic in today’s world, the film could have swayed towards either the offensive or even a half-baked examination. But the team behind this horror film understands their central female lead and gives us a fine character journey worth every second. To that end, Free gives a performance that has already become one of my favorites in the genre. She is a young actress we should all get used to seeing on the big screen.

The team behind this horror film understands their central female lead and gives us a fine character journey worth every second.

Often defying its own genre to borrow from the likes of thriller films, The First Omen is a prequel done right. It contains classic jump scares we all love, with an intensely emotional and frightening story to back it up. With an incredible dissection of church corruption related to evil acts in God’s name, Stevenson’s feature debut boldly uses Margaret to facilitate important dialogue when it comes to religion and understanding one's purpose. And thanks to a great central performance from Free, I wouldn’t be surprised if The First Omen became a favorite of the entire franchise.

Movies | Review: ‘Godzilla X Kong: The New Empire’ is a…

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Movies | review: ‘godzilla x kong: the new empire’ is a worthy ‘when hairy met scaly ii’.

Former adversaries, now colleagues in world-saving: Godzilla (left, with scales) and King Kong star in "Godzilla X Kong: The New Empire." (Warner Bros. Pictures via AP)

Guy behind the concession counter the other night asks me which movie I’m seeing. “Godzilla X Kong: The New Empire,” I tell him. He puts down the popcorn and heaves a nearly convulsive sigh of relief. Gratitude? Hope? All of it. A mashup of emotions, to go with the movie’s mashup of species.

“Oh, man,” the concession worker says. “We really need that one.”

“Dune II” notwithstanding, it has been a difficult year at the average movie theater. Now comes the new Godzilla/Kong smackdown — the marketing materials, for the record, tell us that the “X” in “Godzilla X Kong” is silent, which is a confusing waste of a perfectly good letter. But I’m happy to report that the follow-up to the 2021 “Godzilla vs. Kong” does the job — unevenly, yes, but with a pleasantly reckless spirit of engagement.

It’s directed, as was the 2021 movie, by Adam Wingard and features the return of Rebecca Hall, Brian Tyree Henry, Kaylee Hottle and assorted digital MonsterVerse golden oldies, from ‘Zilla to Kong to Mothra and more, shined up and fulla’ beans.

Maybe the preview crowd on Tuesday was an outlier, but I doubt it. The bursts of applause, particularly in the blithely destructive Rio de Janeiro climax — a team-building exercise for the headliners — had the ring of genuine approval, not just something you do because the movie’s begging for it. At one point Godzilla and Kong sprint toward their enemy, Scar King, the orange authoritarian nightmare whose territorial ambitions as a Kong-scaled antagonist know no bounds. You know the shot: the action-movie slow-mo dash toward the camera, executed here in such a way as to suggest Godzilla and Kong have spent many hours rewatching “Bad Boys.”

Dumb, right? Well, sure. Also amusing, and exciting and sincere. For the audience, it’s a shameless bid for applause that satisfies our deepest urges to see two endlessly competitive beings find the joy in starring, however briefly, in a Michael Bay action movie.

At the end of “Godzilla vs. Kong,” the atomically charged sea lizard and the woolly plus-sized simian reconciled, uneasily (without lawyers), after vanquishing the human-made Mechagodzilla. Despite widespread human fear and skepticism, Godzilla agreed (again, without lawyers) to keep a beady eye in his touchingly too-small head on monstrous threats to humankind on Earth’s surface. Kong returned to Hollow Earth, the gravity-scrambled inner wonderland of verdant beauty and violent predators. The film worked like a remake of “The Odd Couple,” proving that two lonely Titans can share a planet without driving each other crazy.

The threats double, triple and quadruple in the new movie. Scar King, whose miserably enslaved followers include a Titan “ancient” in the Godzilla vein, ranks as Headache No. 1.  But there are others, and Godzilla gives up his post to chase down an unexplained distress signal emitting from Hollow Earth. The signal perplexes the humans in “Godzilla X Kong,” nervous about what might happen if Godzilla and Kong mix it up again.

Rebecca Hall, left, and Brian Tyree Henry in a scene from "Godzilla X Kong: The New Empire." (Warner Bros. Pictures via AP)

These humans of whom we speak include the brilliant, eternally preoccupied scientist Dr. Andrews (the Hall character). Her adopted daughter Jia (Hottle), the sole surviving member of the Iwi tribe of Skull Island, has been plagued by visions of Hollow Earth and imminent catastrophe, and with her telepathic communication with her pal Kong heightened, something’s definitely up. Reunited with the Titan-obsessed podcaster Bernie (Henry) and Andrews’ one-time squeeze Trapper (Dan Stevens), the humans zwoop to Hollow Earth to make their own set of astonished green-screen discoveries on cue.

Whole sections of “Godzilla X Kong” shove the humans off-screen for many minutes at a time. Few will complain. I love Hall in just about everything and she and Hottle capture enough authentic feeling in their mother/daughter relationship to earn a tear or two themselves. To be fair, some of that comes from the screenplay by writers Terry Rossio, Simon Barrett and Jeremy Slater, though the laziest exposition and boilerplate dialogue puts the “bored” in “cardboard.” (I stopped counting how often Hall’s character says “Oh, my god!” in response to whatever she’s oh-my-godding about.)

Whatever; nobody’s paying for the words here. “Godzilla X Kong” makes up for its own deficiencies with oddball flourishes. Wingard and the writers work like rogue chefs at an Olive Garden, tossing everything they can at any number of walls to see what sticks. The sight of Godzilla curling up like a kitten, napping inside the Colosseum in Rome after he’s half-trashed it in order to save it from an attacker: very nice. Later on, chowing down on a lifetime’s worth of free food (atomic energy stored under the Arctic ice), Godzilla’s bad breath and body odor color changes from blue to bright pink, as if he’s getting dolled up for a Summer of ’23 weekend with Barbenheimer.

Godzilla, thinking pink and apparently just coming out of a Hollow Earth screening of "Barbie," in the new "Godzilla X Kong: The New Empire." (Warner Bros. Pictures via AP)

The movie proceeds with brutal bouts of MMA combat with 300-foot combatants. The comparatively measured and selective action storytelling of the 2014 Gareth Edwards “Godzilla,” like last year’s terrific Japanese revitalizer  “Godzilla Minus One,” feels a long way from Wingard’s janky funhouse movies. But they have their own relentless, overstuffed appeal; I wouldn’t recommend them if they didn’t.

If I focus more on Godzilla in this new picture than Kong (the movie’s slightly more Kong-centric), maybe it’s because the best dog I ever had also had a too-small head. Not sure that’s enough to build an entire Godzilla ethos around, but I’ll take it up with my therapist.

And I’ll take these Godzilla/Kong MonsterVerse movies over most other corporate studio franchises these days, especially the recent “Jurassic Park” outings, which were, what’s the word … lousy. Yes, Godzilla and Kong cause untold and blithely unexamined human and property damage in Wingard’s latest, enough so that I wouldn’t mind seeing an entire movie at some point in this franchise’s lifespan devoted to lawsuits and legal battles, if only to see how Godzilla and Kong behave in a courtroom. The Rio carnage is quite extensive; earlier, there’s a dash of sweet pathos in the sight of Godzilla klutzing around Rome, damaging priceless landmarks because he can’t help it. Typical foreign tourist.

But let’s be realistic: What good is realism to “Godzilla X Kong”? Final question: Which low-level employee took the time to add the extra exclamation point to the dire control panel warning “GODZILLA VITALS SURGING!!”? There are only four possible words for whoever it was: employee of the month.

“Godzilla X Kong: The New Empire” — 3 stars (out of 4)

MPA rating: PG-13 (for creature violence and action)

Running time: 2:02

How to watch: Premieres in theaters March 28

Michael Phillips is a Tribune critic.

[email protected]

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‘Bad Faith: Christian Nationalism’s War on Democracy’ Review: A Scary Look at the Potential Soldiers of a Second Trump Reign

The followers of Christian Nationalism want a theocracy. Stephen Ujlaki and Christopher Jacob Jones's chilling film suggests that another Trump presidency could help them get it.

By Owen Gleiberman

Owen Gleiberman

Chief Film Critic

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Bad Faith

In 2017, Trump, once he took the reins of power, was constrained — by the other branches of government, and by the rule of law. He didn’t become the explicitly, committedly anti-democratic figure he is now until the 2020 election, when his declaration that he was actually the winner, and that Joe Biden had stolen the election, became the new cornerstone of his ideology. In the intervening period, Trump has been setting himself up to rule the United States as an authoritarian leader, and that meshes perfectly with the goals of Christian Nationalism, a movement that’s built around the dream of transforming America into a theocracy: a Christian nation ruled by a higher power than the Constitution — that is, by the will of God, as interpreted by his white Christian followers.

The alliance between Trump and Christian Nationalism is a profound one. Progressives tend to be focused, to the point of obsession, on the hypocrisy of the alliance — the idea that men and women who are supposedly devoted to the teachings of Jesus Christ could rally behind a sinner and law-breaker like Trump, who seems the incarnation of everything they should be against. The documentary fills in their longstanding justification: that Trump is seen as a modern-day version of King Cyrus, a pagan who God used as a tool to help the people. According to this mode of opportunistic logic, Trump doesn’t need to be a pious Christian; his very recklessness makes him part of a grander design. The Christian Nationalists view Trump much as his disgruntled base of working-class nihilist supporters have always viewed him — as a kind of holy wrecking ball.    

But, of course, that’s just the rationalization. “Bad Faith” captures the intricacy with which Trump, like certain Republicans before him, has struck a deal with the Christian Right that benefits both parties. In exchange for their support in 2016, he agreed to back a slate of judicial appointees to their liking, and to come over to their side on abortion. Trump’s victory in 2016, like Reagan’s in 1980, was sealed by the support of the Christian Right. But what he’s promising them this time is the very destruction of the American system that they have long sought.   

The most chilling aspect of “Bad Faith” is that, in tracing the roots of the Christian Right, the movie colors in how the dream of theocracy has been the movement’s underlying motivation from almost the start. In 1980, when the so-called Moral Majority came into existence, its leader, Jerry Falwell, got all the attention. (A corrupt quirk of the movement is that as televangelists like Falwell, Pat Robertson, and, later on, Joel Osteen became rich and famous, their wealth was presented as evidence that God had chosen them to lead.) But Falwell, despite the headlines he grabbed, wasn’t the visionary organizer of the Moral Majority.

That was Paul Weyrich, the owlish conservative religious activist who founded the hugely influential Council for National Policy, which spearheaded the structural fusion of Christianity and right-wing politics. He’s the one who went to Falwell and Robertson and collated their lists of supporters into a Christian political machine that could become larger than the sum of its parts. The machine encompassed a network of 72,000 preachers, it employed sophisticated methods of micro-targeting, and its impetus was to transform Evangelical Christianity into a movement that was fundamentally political. The G.O.P. became “God’s own party,” and the election of Reagan was the Evangelicals’ first victory. We see a clip of Reagan saying how he plans to “make America great again,” which is the tip of the iceberg of how much the Trump playbook got from him.

Randall Balmer, the Ivy League historian of American religion who wrote the book “Bad Faith,” is interviewed in the documentary, and he makes a fascinating point: that there’s a mythology that the Christian Right was first galvanized, in 1973, by Roe v. Wade — but that, in fact, that’s not true. Jerry Falwell didn’t deliver his first anti-abortion sermon until 1978. According to Balmer, the moment that galvanized the Christian Right was the 1971 lower-court ruling on school desegregation that held that any institution that engages in racial discrimination or segregation is not, by definition, a charitable institution, and therefore has no claim to tax-exempt status.

This had an incendiary effect. Churches like Jerry Falwell’s were not integrated and didn’t want to be; yet they also wanted their tax-exempt status. It was this law that touched off the anti-government underpinnings of the Christian Right, much as the sieges of Ruby Ridge and Waco became the seeds of the alt-right. And it sealed the notion that Christian Nationalism and White Nationalism were joined at the hip, a union that went back to the historical fusion of the two in the Ku Klux Klan’s brand of Christian terrorism.

“Bad Faith” makes a powerful case that Christian Nationalism is built on a lie: the shibboleth that America was originally established as a “Christian nation.” It’s true to say that the Founders drew on the moral traditions of Judeo-Christian culture. Yet the freedom of religion in the First Amendment was put there precisely as a guard against religious tyranny. It was, at the time, a radical idea: that the people would determine how — and what God — they wanted to worship. In truth, Christian Nationalism undermines not only the freedoms enshrined by the Constitution but the very concept of free will that’s at the heart of Christian theology. You can’t choose to be a follower of Christ if that belief is imposed on you.

Reviewed online, April 2, 2024. Running time: 88 MIN.

  • Production: A Heretical Reason Productions, Panarea production. Producers: Stephen Ujlaki, Chris Jones. Executive producers: Peter D. Graves, John Ptak, Mike Steed, Todd Stiefel.
  • Crew: Directors: Stephen Ujlaki, Chris Jones. Screenplay: Stephen Ujlaki, Chris Jones, Alec Baer. Camera: Bill Yates, Pilar Timpane, Trevor May. Editor: Alec Baer, Chris Jones. Music: Lili Haydn, Jeremy Grody.
  • With: Peter Coyote, Elizabeth Neumann, Randall Balmer, Ken Peters, Eboo Patel, Katherine Stewart, Samuel Perry, Russell Moore, Rev. William Barber II, Linda Gordon, Jim Wallis, Lisa Sharon Harper, Jonathan Wilson Hartgrove, Anne Nelson, Brent Allpress, John Marty.

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‘The First Omen’ Review: Damien’s New Origin Story Conceives of a Majestically Messy Franchise Future

Alison foreman.

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What to expect when you’re expecting … the Antichrist?

Filmmaker Arkasha Stevenson delivers her gleefully gruesome answer to that increasingly popular question in 20 th Century’s terrifying and triumphant “The First Omen.” It’s a nominally named soft franchise reboot and the vastly superior (if accidental) answer to Neon’s “Immaculate” with Sydney Sweeney , also in theaters now.

In “ The First Omen ,” Nell Tiger Free stars as Margaret, an American nun in training come to teach at an ill-fated orphanage in Rome. Serving under a strict mother superior (Sônia Braga), Margaret was called to the school by a cardinal she’s known since childhood (Bill Nighy) and soon runs into a troubled girl (Nicole Sorace) who oddly reminds her of herself. Paradigm-shifting for Margaret and “The Omen” franchise, it’s this relationship that makes up the meat of the movie; if you can watch these two talk on a bench, you’ll follow the plot just fine. Related Stories The Los Angeles Festival of Movies Is Ready to Do the Impossible in LA: Build Local Film Community Overlook Returns for Four Days of Horror in New Orleans: Inside the Genre Festival’s Glowing Lineup

A scene from 20th Century Studios' THE FIRST OMEN. Photo courtesy of 20th Century Studios. © 2024 20th Century Studios. All Rights Reserved.

Still, for the unindoctrinated, it’s worth knowing the basics. Stevenson’s giallo-inspired (*) prequel takes place just a few months before the start of Richard Donner’s 1976 masterwork. Those classic horror beats — grayer and distinctly more British in pallor — center on a U.S. ambassador, his unlucky wife, and a still pint-sized Son of Satan residing in London.

(*There comes a time in most Rome-set horror movies when you have to ask yourself: Is this supposed to look like a giallo — or is that actress just well-lit and Italian? One such moment arrives about a third of the way into “The First Omen.” As Margaret’s stunning roommate and fellow wannabe nun Luz, played by Maria Caballeler, lounges on her bed, she’s covered in a prismatic pool and it’s definitely giallo.)

Sonia Braga as Sister Silva in 20th Century Studios' THE FIRST OMEN. Photo courtesy of 20th Century Studios. © 2024 20th Century Studios. All Rights Reserved.

Freak accidents, animal attacks, recreational sports injuries, and the occasional aneurysm have punctuated “The Omen” screenwriter David Seltzer’s nostalgic but sometimes fallible and forgettable universe. As radical as the Emmy-winning “Prey” with as many of its own sequel possibilities as the smash hit series midquel “Saw X,” “The First Omen” ticks all the boxes of a justified IP revisitation that arguably should get more chapters becausse it improves what came before it.

From a screenplay co-written by Stevenson, Tim Smith, and Keith Thomas with a story by Ben Jacoby, the unholy conception of Damien Thorn for “The First Omen” doubles as the basis for Stevenson’s feature directorial debut — releasing intense scares at a contraction-like pace, before giving birth to a last act no one could forget. It’s also the rare prequel (sequel, requel, what have you) that fits seamlessly inside the existing franchise and makes tracks toward a chilling new future. In short, it births something new and genuinely scary. Remember when that wasn’t so rare?

Distributed by 20th Century Studios, “The First Omen” is in theaters on Friday, April 5 .

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    9/10. I'm Officially Done With Rotten Tomatoes. breneff 27 November 2022. For the life of me I cannot figure out the absolute terrible takes that the rotten tomatoes website has on actually good TV shows and movies. They literally called this a CW show with Wednesday Addams.

  9. 'Wednesday' Review: The Strange Girl Is on the Case

    By Mike Hale. Nov. 22, 2022. Wednesday. The news that Tim Burton would be directing half the episodes of "Wednesday," Netflix's new dramedy about the Addams Family's death-obsessed young ...

  10. Wednesday: Season 1

    Watch Wednesday — Season 1 with a subscription on Netflix, or buy it on Prime Video, Apple TV. Wednesday isn't exactly full of woe for viewers, but without Jenna Ortega in the lead, this Addams ...

  11. 'Wednesday' review: Jenna Ortega makes Netflix's Addams Family series

    Jenna Ortega faces teen troubles in "Wednesday," a Netflix series based on the Addams Family. Although the main character's name was inspired by the poetic line "Wednesday's child is full of ...

  12. 'Wednesday' Netflix Review: Stream It or Skip It?

    Stream It Or Skip It: 'Wednesday' on Netflix, A Sharp Modern Take on the Eldest Addams Sibling. The Addams Family (snap, snap) has been a hallmark of the horror-loving crowd for years. Whether ...

  13. Netflix's Wednesday Combines Teen Angst and Murder

    Cristina Escobar November 18, 2022. Tweet. Netflix's Addams Family series "Wednesday" successfully combines two genres in a way that makes more sense than most—the teen coming-of-age story and the murder-mystery plot. Over the last decade or so, there's been a lot of shows that have merged the two, using violence to juice up the ...

  14. Wednesday

    Wednesday Addams (Jenna Ortega) discovers mysteries in town and about her parents, while learning to control her psychic powers at Nevermore Academy, the boarding school she is sent to after being kicked out of her public high school. ... Generally Favorable Based on 26 Critic Reviews. 66. 50% Positive 13 Reviews. 46% Mixed 12 Reviews. 4% ...

  15. Is Netflix's "Wednesday" series ok to watch? : r/Christianity

    It's a fantasy show with some elements of dark humour. It's perfectly fine to watch. According to christianity,you must ask yourself if the movie series is useful to you in any way:"All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful"- 1 Corinthians 6 :12.

  16. Wednesday: Season 1 Review

    Posted: Nov 18, 2022 6:00 am. This is a spoiler-free review of Wednesday, which hits Netflix Nov 23. In the pantheon of perfect casting, Jenna Ortega as Wednesday Addams belongs alongside the ...

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  18. 'Wednesday' Review: A More Chilling Spin on the Creepy ...

    It succeeds very well at pushing the story outside its usual genre and into something a little more grown-up, and a little more supernatural, but never loses sight of the heart, humor, and kooky ...

  19. 'Wednesday' Review: Addams Family TV Show on Netflix, Season 1

    November 18, 2022 6:00 am. Share. It's a little late for Halloween, but Netflix 's new spin on the Addams Family franchise, Wednesday, is still a welcome sight. Armed with the backing of Tim ...

  20. Netflix's 'Wednesday' review: How Tim Burton transforms teen TV with

    Tim Burton's Netflix series "Wednesday" gives the macabre teen sibling of the Addams Family her own show starring Jenna Ortega. TV review.

  21. Wednesday Review: Tim Burton's Addams Family Spinoff on Netflix Is a

    Paste Magazine is your source for the best music, movies, TV, comedy, videogames, books, comics, craft beer, politics and more. Discover your favorite albums and films.

  22. 'Wednesday' TV review: Tim Burton's Addams family show is a mixed bag

    Dust off the cobwebs, the Addams family is back. The latest rendition is the new Netflix series "Wednesday," a teen high school dramedy with episodes directed by Tim Burton.. Premiering Nov ...

  23. Christian Movie Reviews

    All the Money in the World Can't Buy an Oscar Debbie Holloway. The Post Speaks Boldly to Current Events with Its 1971 Storyline Debbie Holloway. The Greatest Showman is a Cotton-Candy, Toe-Tapping ...

  24. Karen Kingsbury, the Queen of Christian Fiction, is Aiming Bigger

    Kingsbury, 60, has long been hailed as the queen of Christian fiction. That is perhaps a slender crown. Until fairly recently, Christian fiction was siloed from the mainstream market, sold only at ...

  25. Someone Like You (2024)

    Someone Like You: Directed by Tyler Russell. With Sarah Fisher, Jake Allyn, Lynn Collins, Robyn Lively. Based on the novel by #1 NYTimes bestselling author Karen Kingsbury, "Someone Like You" is an achingly beautiful love story. After the tragic loss of his best friend, a grieving young architect launches a search for her secret twin sister.

  26. Review: In "End of the World," expect one of 2024's best movies

    Review: 'Do Not Expect Too Much from the End of the World' — but do expect one of 2024's best movies. I don't know he did it, exactly, but filmmaker Radu Jude has conjured a rarity: an ...

  27. The First Omen Review: Horror Prequel Criticizes Church Corruption In

    Nell Tiger Free delivers a wonderful leading performance in The First Omen . The film explores themes of church corruption and womanhood, adding layers to classic horror tactics. Richard Donner's The Omen took the world by storm when it first premiered in 1976. It told the story of Damien Thorn, a child believed to be the spawn of Satan who ...

  28. Review: 'Godzilla X Kong: New Empire' is 'When Hairy Met Scaly II'

    The movie proceeds with brutal bouts of MMA combat with 300-foot combatants. The comparatively measured and selective action storytelling of the 2014 Gareth Edwards "Godzilla," like last year ...

  29. 'Bad Faith' Review: The Potential Soldiers of A Second Trump Reign

    'Bad Faith: Christian Nationalism's War on Democracy' Review: A Scary Look at the Potential Soldiers of a Second Trump Reign Reviewed online, April 2, 2024. Running time: 88 MIN.

  30. 'The First Omen' Review: Antichrist Origin Story Bears New Franchise

    Filmmaker Arkasha Stevenson delivers her gleefully gruesome answer to that increasingly popular question in 20 th Century's terrifying and triumphant "The First Omen.". It's a nominally ...