The Wicker Man is a well-crafted horror film that is fun and outrageous but carefully builds to a truly horrifying climax that retains it power even when you know that it’s coming. The 2006 remake is so bad that it has gained a reputation as an unintentional comedy. I was pretty pleased to hear the director of the original was making another take on the story. If anyone could capture the magic of the original film the surely he’s the man for the job? Tragically, no is the answer. As I watched I found it hard to believe how bad the film is.
The film introduces us to a young American gospel singer Beth Boothby (Brittania Nicol) getting ready for a trip to the Scottish Borders. Beth used to be a successful pop singer but has joined an evangelical church and been “born again”. Beth and her boyfriend Steve Thomson (Henry Garrett) are going as missionaries to spread the word of Jesus to the heathens of Scotland. I think we’re supposed to laugh at these people but they all act nice and honest and sincere in their beliefs even if the acting is pretty poor and the southern accents are just appalling. Beth sings and says farewell to her friends. I had a horrible feeling about this film right from the start. The music was not unexpected as it in fit well with the original film that had a lot singing. There were some very broad lazy stereotypes being used here and the worst was cowboy Steve who has a cowboy hat which he hardly ever takes off.
Next we’re in Scotland and Beth and Steve are being welcomed by Sir Lachlan Morrison (Graham McTavish) and his wife Lady Delia (Jacqueline Leonard) who are sponsoring their visit to Scotland and take them into the city while Lady Delia talks to Beth and Steve about their Christian beliefs while also talking about her own pagan beliefs. They have arranged a concert back at their own village the following night but in the meantime Beth and Steve are going to go door-to-door proselytizing to the heathens. We get a montage of them failing to convert anyone and they return to their hotel room feeling bit down. Now this pair seems very unworldly and innocent but we learn that they aren’t. They both have past that they’re ashamed of.
Next day Lord and Lady Morrison take Beth and Steve back to their village which seems to be full of truly terrible actors. The acting up to this point has been poor but the village is full of the worst acting I have seen, school plays included. They are all weird and enthusiastic and everything is played very arch and creepy. Beth and Steve seem oblivious and think they are being welcomed by friendly locals who are eager to hear Beth’s sermon and join in singing her songs. Steve and Beth are happy to take part in some old local customs and Beth agrees to be the May Queen, while Steve is persuaded to be the Laddie in their ceremonies, but if you have seen the original you know that something darker is going on. The ending is not the climax of a carefully orchestrated plan, but instead we just get extended scenes of stupid things happening and lots of semi-naked amateur actors singing.
Summing up, this is nothing at all like the original film. It liberally insults Christians, pagans, Scots and Americans with a stupid ham-fisted story that is incompetently acted. I really hoped I would like this but I don’t at all. There was never any time where I could suspend my disbelief and accept any of the performances. It has only one saving grave, Henry Garrett gets naked and the camera lingers for quite a while on his rather pleasant naked rear. Oh yeah and in spite anything you heard Christopher Lee only has a tiny scene in a flashback scene. And the Wicker Tree is totally pointless.
- Review: THE WICKER TREE (thepeoplesmovies.com)
- Pissing Up the Wrong Tree (mraybould.wordpress.com)