What better way to end another summer of remakes than with a remake. And this recent holiday weekend presented audiences with an updated version of "The Wicker Man". Perhaps part of the vision for the Burning Man festival came from some half-baked memory of seeing the original "Wicker Man" movie from the seventies that celebrated people getting in touch with their pagan selves and indulging in heathen rituals to ring in the harvest. Sadly the free love mysticism of the original has been removed along with any semblance of the unique weirdness that made the 1973 film literally a cult classic for over thirty years.
In the remade "Wicker Man" the pagans have been rewritten as a ritualistic feminist community and the clash of religious beliefs is buried under a tepid subplot of women versus men. The uptight Edward Woodward countered by a groovy Christopher Lee are replaced by a mumbling Nicholas Cage and a medicated Ellen Burstyn. The fresher faces include Kate Beahan as a large lipped waif that leads Nicholas Cages character to the island and Deadwood's prim city girl, Molly Parker, who moonlights as Sister Rose, the sexy school marm who leads a classroom of men hating girls.
Clearly the marketing and money machine behind the new "Wicker Man" weren't quite sure what to make of it, and the movie succumbs to the compulsion of lifting signature bits from other contemporary horror movies. Starting with the misleading marquee art depicting some Ringu renegade, to the recurring clips of seeing a truck plow into someone at top speed which borrows "Final Destination"'s jolt factor. In the trailer we're led to believe that Nicholas Cage sees dead people, and he can't ever seem to shake the all too common children whispering in an eerie manner heard everywhere he goes.
For writer and director Neil LaBute, the remade "Wicker Man" is another step down the sinking spiral his career is on. Labute appears to be unable to attain the high water mark he set with his bold first film, "In the Company of Men". Here it is almost ten years later and all that appears to connect his two movies would be the not so subtle issues he seems to have dealing with women.
What could have been a timely release for all the people who couldn't make it to Black Rock City this year, the remake of "The Wicker Man" is a feeble attempt to cash in on a cult classic. It's prime redeeming quality being that it may expose some people to the original "Wicker Man", who can enjoy some good old fashioned freaky scary fun from the 70's.
Adding the original "Wicker Man" to my queue, for Movie Magazine, this is Purple.
© 2007 - Purple - Air Date: 9/7/06
The Wicker Man (remake)
USA - 2006