Robert Thorn is a senior diplomat in the United States federal government, stationed in Italy. After two miscarriages, his wife, Katherine, gives birth to their child, a stillbirth. Katherine does not find out that her child has died, and Robert is acutely aware that this news would devastate her.
However, the hospital's priest, Father Spiletto, presents Robert with a way to spare his wife the anguish: another boy was born that night, but his mother died in childbirth. Robert is convinced to take the baby as his own and never tell Katherine. They name the boy Damien Thorn.
Robert's career ascends over the course of the next five years. He is initially named Deputy Ambassador to the United Kingdom, but the ambassador dies at 6:06:06 in to a freak traffic accident. He thus becomes ambassador and the family settles into an estate outside London. But disturbing events, all seeming to revolve around Damien, occur. The most prominent of these is the hanging suicide of Damien's nanny at his birthday party. A trip to the city zoo ends with the animals going into a murderous frenzy and Damien himself becomes hysterical during a drive to church. Meanwhile, a series of photographs taken by photojournalist Keith Jennings foreshadow a number of shocking deaths.
Having become suspicious, fueled by the warnings given to him by Father Brennan, Robert goes in search of Damien's real mother. Jennings also accompanies Robert as he feels that he has become part of the situation (after one of the photos he took foreshadows his own death). However, he discovers a carcass of a jackal-like doberman canine. Beside the grave is the 'child' of the jackal (which should be Damien); Robert discovers a corpse of a little infant with a cracked skull. He realizes his real son was murdered that night.
Afterwards, Katherine is murdered by Mrs. Baylock when she visits with the pretext of Damien wanting to deliver flowers to his mother. The nanny, who is also evil, injects Katherine's IV line with an air bubble; Katherine is very weak from the accident and sedatives and dies while struggling to stop Baylock from killing her. Robert is convinced that Damien is the root of these incidents, he finds out that his concern is warranted after a visit to a priest in the Holy Land: Damien is the long-prophesied Antichrist. Robert Thorn decides to kill his son in a church, by means of stabbing him with the seven Daggers of Meggido, in the shape of a cross ??? the only weapons in the world able to harm the Antichrist. Unfortunately, Robert is killed by an Officer of the Diplomatic Protection Group, attached to and trained by a Specialist Firearms Command team at the instant at which he is reciting the Lord's Prayer with his son struggling beneath him. Damien survives. Damien watches his father's funeral with a smile while holding the hand of the President of the United States, who is Robert's Godfather. During the last shot of the film, Damien turns around and sinisterly smiles at the camera.
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