The Wicker Man – Film Review

wickermanOther than catching up on good movies, I also decided to catch up on some all-time meme-spawning stinkers, starting with this honest-to-goodness terrible remake of the 1973 cult horror classic. I’ve never seen the original, but I watched its ending on YouTube years ago and it was honestly one of the creepiest, most unsettling movie endings I’ve seen. The 2006 version however is so ludicrous and ineptly made that even my deep-seated fear of fire didn’t stir once during its near-identical ending.

It is however a highly entertaining bad movie if you’re in a mood to laugh incredulously at its bizarre choices and total lack of any sense. It wouldn’t be as much fun if it didn’t star Nicolas Cage, bless him. I haven’t paid money to watch a Nicolas Cage film at the cinemas since Adaptation in 2002, but I confess, I still have a soft spot for the guy and his distinctive half-mumble, just because he’s such a strange creature. Say all you want about his overacting, but at least he’s not your generic leading man. Cage plays a cop called Edward Malus, who receives a letter from his ex-fiance Willow, asking him to come help find her missing daughter Rowan. It leads him to Summersisle, a farming commune on a remote island in the middle of nowhere, where everyone is named after a plant and dresses in 19th century fashions, phone service doesn’t exist, women are in charge and men are their mute submissive servants used for breeding and heavy lifting. And absolutely no one will give him a straight answer. Oh and there’s some pagan festival coming up in a couple of days.

This male vs. female angle, which replaces the original’s Catholic vs. pagan theme, could have been interesting but I’ve no idea what the movie is trying to say. Is it saying that women are scary and evil? Or is it instead a feminist revenge fantasy? Hard to say because all the characters in the movie are awful, including Malus, who acts like a total jerk and might be the worst onscreen detective ever. Mind you, his ire is understandable when he has to deal with his ex, who looks constantly on the verge of tears and won’t… finish… her sentences or give a simple direct answer. Seriously, here’s a sample:

Her: I can’t let them do this to me.
Him: Do what? What? What is it you’re not telling me?
Her: Forgive me.
Him: Forgive you for… I’m lost.
Her: I don’t know…
Me: Arrrrrrrrghhhhhhhh shut uuuuuup!

Malus is also haunted by the memory of a girl he couldn’t save from a burning car at the start of the film, and the movie makes sure to replay that scene over and over for no apparent reason. Is it supposed to be his motivation for wanting to get it right this time and save little Rowan? Why, if the movie then gives him an even stronger personal reason (try to guess it in one go)? In fact, nothing about the story or character motivations makes sense, the movie can’t manage any decent scares, and The Wicker Man is a total failure as a film in general and horror flick in particular. But it does give you such unintentionally hilarious gems as Cage running around in a bear suit and Ellen Burstyn dressed as Braveheart, so I find it impossible to hate. How could anyone look at this and think it was a good idea?

They might take our lives, but they will never take away our dignity! Oh wait…

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