The Final Conflict (1981)

Genres - Horror, Thriller  |   Sub-Genres - Supernatural Horror  |   Run Time - 108 min.  |   Countries - United Kingdom, United States  |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Brian J. Dillard

There's a scene in this dreary horror sequel in which Sam Neill, taking on the role of grown-up devil-child Damien Thorn, engages in a long, dimly lit "debate" with a life-sized, extremely agonized-looking statue of Jesus. "Nazarene charlatan, what can you offer humanity?" Neill practically chortles. "Since the hour you vomited forth from the gaping wound of a woman you've done nothing but drown man's soaring desires in a deluge of sanctimonious morality." Such are the bloated, overblown speeches that give The Final Conflict its only entertainment value. It's not that the first two installments of the series weren't totally over the top. It's just that the Gregorian chanting, portentous establishing shots, cheesy neo-Catholic rhetoric, and egregious scenery chewing have almost completely eclipsed the element that made the other movies at least scary -- the frequent, inspired, and gruesome deaths of anyone who cottoned on to little Damien's true nature. We do get an inventive suicide and a spectacularly bungled assassination attempt, but that's about it. This time out, Damien seems more interested in off-camera infanticide than in shedding blood on camera to conceal the facts of his hellish lineage. In fact, The Final Conflict turns the identity of the Antichrist into the worst-kept secret ever. At one point, the guy even brags to his secretary about that whole "I was borne of a jackal" thing. If the movie were shot today, it would be played for laughs, with Damien doing a guest spot on The Rosie O'Donnell Show to "come out" as Satan's only son. This being dour old 1981, however, the laughs are unintentional and the schtick is laid on thick.