Upcoming The Omen horror movie prequel director says trying to avoid the NC-17 rating "weirdly made it more intense"

 Nell Tiger Free as Margaret in The First Omen.
Nell Tiger Free as Margaret in The First Omen.

The First Omen director Arkasha Stevenson says she spent 18 months fighting for one particularly violent scene to be included in the horror prequel, despite 20th Century Studios pushing for its R-rating. Actively trying to avoid an NC-17 rating, in fact, made the more movie "more intense", says producer Keith Levine.

Starring Servant's Nell Tiger Free, the follow-up follows Margaret, as she travels from the US to Rome to start a new life of religious servitude. Once there, though, she finds herself wrestling with a darkness so great it causes her to question her faith.

While the movie's first teaser features no dialogue, fans immediately assumed that Ralph Ineson, Sonia Braga, and Bill Nighy's clergy are hellbent on committing the ultimate sin: orchestrating the birth of the Antichrist. It appears as if the ungodly trio are inducing possessions and welcoming blasphemous babies, determined to bring about children like The Omen's wicked Damien Thorn. (Did we mention it's a precursor to Richard Donner's chilling 1976 classic?)

"The horror in that situation is how dehumanized that woman is," Stevenson recently explained to Fangoria, noting a particularly harrowing moment that sees a female character forced to give birth. "This has been my life for a year and a half, fighting for the shot. It's the theme of our film. It's the female body being violated from the inside outwards.

"If we were going to talk about female body horror, we were going to talk about forced reproduction, and we have to be able to show the female body in a non-sexualized light," she continued. "I'm very proud of [that] shot."

“We had to go back and forth with the ratings board five times," added Levine, which goes some way to teasing just how closely The First Omen toes the line of NC-17 territory.

The First Omen releases on April 5. For more, check out our list of the best horror movies of all time, or our guide to the most exciting upcoming horror movies heading our way.