The First Omen’s Arkasha Stevenson Fought to Keep Its Haunted Birthing Scene

Mike Powers
The First Omen’s Arkasha Stevenson Fought to Keep Its Haunted Birthing Scene

The First Omen is a prequel to the classic 1976 film, set days leading up to the birth of Damian, who’s to be the Antichrist. Along with the actual birth of Damian himself, the film features another birthing scene, one that nearly got the film in trouble with the MPAA up to release.

Early on in the film as she’s adjusting to life at the orphanage, beginner nun Margaret (Nell Tiger Free) sees a hallucination of a woman giving birth. During it, a demonic hand comes out of the woman’s birthing canal, in turn earning the film an NC-17 rating in the eyes of the ratings board. (A film getting that rating tends to kneecap its theatrical prospects.) The initial rating took director Arkasha Stevenson by surprisie, even more so when she realized what specifically about that scene led to the rating.

“[We have] this full frontal shot of the vagina and a hand starts to come through. It was just this…shot of the vagina that was getting flagged every single time,” she told TheWrap. Dealing with the MPAA’s hangups was “really frustrating,” even more so once they realized the scene would get approved if “the labia was no longer in focus.” That was a real Joker moment for Stevenson, who called it weird since “we have a lot of gore and violence. We have a demon phallus. […] I was like, ’What is going on?’ That just made me so upset that it gave me more fuel to keep fighting with them.”

Eventually, she settled on starting the shot with the hand coming through the vagina, when she said it’s “already violated.” In her eyes, conceding to the MPAA made for an even more graphic scene, since you see “the skin getting stretched and it feels much more painful.”

For her part, Free acknowledged filming that scene was split between actually working with the actor playing the “mother” and just looking at a red dot on a camera. It was only in the ADR phase that she got to see it “in all its sticky glory,” and she loved it. “I was cheering in the booth,” she laughed, “I was like, ‘Fuck yeah!’” In the context of the whole movie, she noted how First Omen “deals with very topical and very difficult things” despite its dark themes. “[We do] it in a way that we’re not trying to spoon-feed anything to you. We’re not trying to even enforce our opinions on you whatsoever.”

As for Stevenson? She was just glad the studio had her back during the whole ordeal. “[We have] a vagina in a Disney film, [and] that feels wonderful.”

The First Omen is now in theaters.

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