The Movie Binge

Review: The Wicker Man


First of all it's not nearly as horrible as you've heard. In fact it never even approaches the level of awful such soulless Nicolas Cage works as 8MM or Gone in 60 Seconds seemed to marinate in.

No, Neil Labute's The Wicker Man, a remake of the cult 1970s Christopher Lee film of the same name, instead turns out to be a curious misfire. It's a film that never really gels or approaches coherent storytelling but maybe, that was the point? Am I being too kind? Honestly I'm not sure. I'm not sure if writer/director Labute sees this story of a cop way out of his depth looking for a lost girl on a mysterious island as a black comedy, a straight laced "adult horror" film (beware the "adult horror" label, it often means devoid of suspense) or an odd hodgepodge of both.

I chose to see it as the former (because surely it does not succeed in the latter) and when I gave myself over to it, doggone if I didn't enjoy it on a certain level. Yes, there are problems. Clearly there are problems. One of my most overused phrases when talking about films tends to be, "it was a mess" but in this case...well it really is. Action scenes lie there flat. Odd and too frequent flashbacks by Cage's tortured cop get tedious and laughable. And all in all I never really cared for Cage's performance. He doesn't go far enough in camping it up or playing it straight for me. Consult Johnny Depp’s Ichabod Crane in Sleepy Hollow for an oh so much more alive take on a similar predicament.

But there are pleasures to be had in this weird little flick. Creepy witch-like twins who seem left over from a production Macbeth. Lunatic servant girls drop-kicked by Nic Cage kung fu moves that really come out of nowhere. And let's not forget a climax that finds Cage disguising himself in a bear suit! Damn it if I didn't smile as I shook my head in disbelief.

In a way it all makes perfect sense. Labute spends 100 minutes tearing away any kind of masculinity and authority of Cage's cop. Cage is a cop with no jurisdiction on an island with no use for men (aside from some menial labor of course). Why shouldn't he be making a fool of himself underneath all that fur by the end?

And you thought it didn’t make any sense...