For the third last review for this year’s weirdo’ween, I wanted to write something special: a review of a movie that’s so damn bad, it’s great..like really enjoyable. It’s a movie that I’ve never talked about on here, and it’s one that almost everyone has heard of. It’s not good at building suspense, it’s not well pieced together, but it does feature our lord and savior himself: Nicolas Cage!
Surprisingly, I actually really enjoy this movie, though probably not for the reasons I should.. I think the main reason is because of how laughably bad it is. It has nearly no reference to the original, the acting isn’t that great, and it tries to be something it’s not – scary. So let’s put on our wicker masks, and start screaming at CGI bees, because today: we talk about the one, the only; The Wicker Man remake!
While recovering from a accident while on the road, an officer by the name of Edward Malus receives a letter from his former fiancée Willow, who left him a few years ago without any sort of explanation, telling that her daughter Rowan has gone missing. This event has lead Edward to travel to the distant and private island of Summerisle, where Willow now lives among a community that plants fruits all the time. As he continues his investigation with the hostile and unhelpful dwellers, Edward comes to the conclusion that the locals must be pagans, as proven by their practicing of old rituals to try and improve their harvest, and Rowan, who turns out to also be his daughter, is probably alive and being prepared to be sacrificed – y’know, for reasons.
Summersisle, as it turns out, is a female-dominated place, and has conceived itself as nothing but a haven for women and refugees from the Salem witch trials. Here, the matriarchs observe the Olde ways, and the few male that are on the island are more or less there for breeding purposes..otherwise, they’re useless to these women. Another important thing to note is that Summersisle‘s main export is honey – a symbolic and literal headache for Edward, considering he’s allergic to bees. “Beekeepers!” cries Edward. “They seem to be everywhere on this island!” Well, spoiler alert: that’s probably because Summersisle‘s main export is honey.. Did I mention the dialog in the movie is just as terrible?
As he continues making his inconclusive conclusions, Edward overhears a group of these Pagans talking about an oncoming “Mayday ritual” known as “time of death and rebirth.” It’s then he learns that the previous year’s crop failed; nearly dies from bee stings – in the best possible scene – wears a bear suit and punches a woman, and eventually comes to the overbearing conclusion [which admittedly, couldn’t be more obvious if the locals had tattooed a timetable of events on the back of his hands] that Rowan has been planned to be burnt alive in a Pagan rite, all to make sure that this time, they have a bountiful harvest. He also meets the Queen Bee of the group: Sister Summersisle, who seems to have her own plans for him involving the title’s Wicker Man: all while stating “The drone must die.” I’m gonna go out on a whim and say she probably means Cage.. I mean Edward.
To make matters worse [if that’s even possible] I don’t think I’ve ever seen a movie filled with so many plot holes. I found myself constantly asking questions like: Why did they kill the pilot that brought Edward to the island if they wanted him brought to the island? Why does Malus come across the beehives so easily when they were in plain sight and he knew he was allergic? Why were four dream sequences important? Where were they keeping Rowan throughout the movie up until they found her? How come Malus didn’t ask about why that woman was covered from head to toe in bees? Is the movie seriously not going to address anything? It’s…very confusing, and it’s unfortunate. Because it makes The Wicker Man go from bad to worse in a matter of seconds. A lot of times, these scenes got really stupid really fast. For instance, Edward walks into a classroom and pleasantly says “Wow. School’s changed since I was a kid.” How does the teacher react? She screams – as in literally screams – at him stating: “Why are you frightening my students?!” Wait. Hold on, I’m sorry.. why exactly was what he said considered “frightening?” Did I miss something? Where did that come from?
So let’s recap: Nicolas Cage‘s fate was sealed the very moment he set foot on Summersisle island. The lies and half-truths he was told by the women while searching for the little girl were an elaborate “presentation” that had no necessary meaning. If you think about it, the Pagan women could have easily just tied him up [or even drugged him, they did have plants that they obviously knew about!] and proceeded with their plans WITHOUT such an elaborate show off-y presentation.
To end this abomination of a film – even if it is “so bad, it’s good” – let’s look at the DVD/Blu Ray version of the film. look at the move’s cover itself: [here] See that little girl with evil eyes? Based on her “evil look”, she should have a central role in the film, right? Far from it. You don’t even see her character until the end of the film – and she has no evil eyes! [or dialog] The only “evil thing” she does is start a bonfire with a torch. So scary.
Secondly, the DVD claims to have an “unrated” version of the film along with the theatrical version. Usually, when “unrated versions” of movies are released, it implies there should be more violence, or gore in the case of horror movies than what was shown in the ordinary version; but not The Wicker Man. Both versions are exactly the same with three exceptions:
#1] The unrated version shows Cage having his legs broken at the kneecaps using a trick that appears to be stolen from the Misery. In Misery though, the ankles were broken, not the kneecaps. Certainly, this is nothing to be “unrated” about.
#2] In the unrated version, we see Cage have a cage-like mask put over his head, with angry bees poured into the mask. [like the GIF above!] No blood or gore though, just bees. In his face. Again, this scene has nothing to make it “unrated”.
#3] Finally, the unrated version of The Wicker Man has a scene that was cut out of the theatrical version, where we see the last scene showing two of the island “sisters” going to the mainland to find new “recruits” for their sacrifice ritual. Maybe it’s just me, but cutting out a scene that implied sexual situation from a film makes it less likely to be considered “unrated.”
Unfortunately, The Wicker Man is more laughable than it is scary. As I said above, I enjoy it for this reason, it’s just unfortunate that it became something it’s really not. I’m sure I’m not alone in saying it, but when it first came out a lot of people weren’t impressed by it. It’s strange, it’s not scary, but with Nicolas Cage as a main character, it becomes a classic “so bad, it’s good” film. He’s really the only reason to watch it.. So if you like that kind of film, I guess I recommend it.. just don’t go in expecting something to land on The Criterion Collection – I don’t even want to imagine that. Even the trailer is bad, check it out below!
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THANKS FOR READING.