*This isn't in the typical Bad Movies review format, as it was written when I first saw this abomination, a few months ago, some minor changes have been made to accomidate*
Anthony Schaffer wrote the film, "The Wicker Man," in 1973. Directed by Robin Hardy, it
struck a chord in culture for its strong script and powerful tone, and
it has since been a cult favorite of multiple generations. I strongly
urge you to see this masterpiece, and not have it sullied by what you
are about to read.
Neil LaBute directed the film, "The Wicker Man," in 2006. From the very
get-go, things start to go downhill. At a rest stop, Nicholas Cage's
character, Edward, is looking over a rack of self-help audio tapes.
Titles like, "Conquering fear," are abound on the rack. He picks one
up, entitled, "EVERYTHING IS OKAY." The bold, stark letters epitomize
this film, in that they show the complete lack of subtlety in LaBute's
script. The reason the original was so effective was that nothing was
overdone; everything was subtle, creepy and anxious. In LaBute's
script, however, everything is right out there in plain sight.
Characters express plot points and dialogue with such depth and
distinction, that any chance of intrigue is lost entirely. Then they
repeat themselves. The audio tape in the opening merely acts as the
most in-your-face foreshadowing ever to be filmed. It shows a complete
lack of trust for the viewer, and as is if LaBute thought his audience
was so diluted from years of formulaic ironic foreshadowing that they
would appreciate this. "Oh, I get it, because everything's NOT okay!
Wow, that's brilliant."
An ineffective opening car wreck (cause who's tired of OUT OF NOWHERE
cars as an opening scare?), is only the beginning of this film's ID
card - jump scares. Every single scare in the film is something
breaking or falling or jumping or screaming accompanied by a JOLT. None
of these are particularly effective, and no effort is put into making
an actually foreboding, escalating sense of genuine dread. Another
A little later on, Edward receives a letter from Willow, his ex-fiancée
(From when they were "Very young" - more on this later). She tells him
to come to Summersisle (a changed name from the original's locale) to
find her missing daughter. He goes off the coast of Washington to Summersisle, and
this is where our tale of terror truly begins.
The first scene on Summersisle once again shows the film's failure to
attain the subtlety of the original film - a burlap sack drips blood.
In a film with the title, "The Wicker Man," seeing gore so early (or,
rather, at all) merely is sad, as it demonstrates its lust for shock
value and acceptance in today's world of the extreme. Another cheap
We meet the barmaiden, Sister Beech. A truly terrible performance by
actress Diane Dellano, who reads lines with such forced hatred that to
hear her speak is damaging to one's sanity. Lines like, "Yes, let there
be the ceremony of death and rebirth," only add to the film's
over-reliance on overplaying it. Next, we meet Willow, Ed's lost
romance. They talk, and not much is accomplished in the scene. We'll
have to wait for their next encounter to continue the curious plot line
of their lost love.
We meet Sister Honey. She's cute. She's nobody.
A backtrack to the 1973 film; One of the best-played scenes was that in
the school house, where we discover that Rowan "Exists." It's casually
disturbing, and the actress playing the teacher works perfectly; sweet,
but not too sweet. All the acting in the scene is wonderful. In the
2006 version, the scene falls flat on its face in every conceivable
manner. The script is repugnant, the scare is pointless and cheap, the
mention of "Phallic symbol" is treated as if it were nothing, and the
teacher, Sister Rose, is played by Molly Parker as the worst
performance in the film. She's giddy, overly sinister and just plain
awful. In a film of uniformly sub-par performances, Molly Parker gives
us a BAD impersonation of a hellish teenie-bopper. (As a side note, the
phallic dancing pole from the original is seen, but not used. Maybe
they wanted that PG-13.
Now we find ourselves with Ed and Willow again. They're at the remnants
of an old church, and it is discovered that Willow's child, Rowan, is
also Edward's child. If you didn't see this coming, you might be one to
love this film. After a little thankless investigating, Edward runs out
to the dock to catch the sea plane. No one's there. So he sits down on
the dock to wait, and we're treated to a nice double dream sequence, in
the middle of the day, when he had been sitting down with his eyes open
for approximately 3 seconds. This is the kind of thing that is done
when we want a good, thrilling scene that can't happen in the course of
the story - we add a dream sequence in. Logical.
Oh, Edward is allergic to bees, which is convenient, as they make honey
on the island. Like the original, the crops failed the year before. I will ignore the fact that honey crops don’t fail. In
this next scene, Eddy finds himself in a field full of bees. "Oh no!
I'm in a field full of bees!" He silently screams. There's an aerial
shot of the field, that's the best shot in the movie, by far. Oh, that
reminds me, the direction here isn't the worst possible, but it's still
pretty bad. The lighting, especially, completely shrouds some scenes
from view. And the CGI ocean is just laughable.
So now, I believe, we meet Sister Summersisle, played by Ellen Burstyn.
She's nice, and adds a bit of the original's flair to the proceedings
with her underplayed performance, but her script is so much worse than
Christopher Lee's, which is amazing, as it's basically the same script,
with some identical dialogue. Just incredible, how many things went
So, through a series of unfortunate events, we find out that Rowan may
have been burned already. She hasn't, and we know this. And I think
I'll take this time to point out that we've now flashed back to the
beginning in hazy black and white-O-vision 4 or 5 times, seeing more
and more of stuff that doesn't matter each time. These include a scare
gag that was stolen from UHF, and a host of other "Disturbing images."
This is what the film does best - give us scary makeup effects and the
like, that have nothing to do with the plot which should be developing,
and isn't. Who are the people covered in bees and/or bee stings in
Sister Summersisle's fun house? Why are they there? Will we ever see
them again? No. Also, there's a shot of Sister Summersisle lying in a
white bed. The scene is presented like they were introducing a Bond
villain. She might as well have had a white cat to stroke.
There's a scene here which has to be the funniest thing I've ever seen
in a horror movie, or any movie. The scene is one of Edward kicking
Sister Honey in the face, but it's done as if it were an action movie.
It's so horridly out-of place, that I was literally in tears. The sound
and the kick are absolutely outrageous, and I had to apologize to the
other five people in the theater for my outburst.
Then we find ourselves nearing the end of this torture. The animal
costumes from the original are back, but whereas the original's
costumes and masks were haunting, these are overly elaborate, and at
times hilarious. Most so is Edward's bear costume. You may have heard
that it was overly done, but you have no idea how true that is. To see
Nicholas Cage running around and punching people in the face while in
this mammoth suit is both admirable and laughable for an actor.
And you know it from here, if you've seen the original. He escapes with
the child, and the child leads him back to the others. Sister
Summersile goes through a nearly identical script to Lee's, but in a
fraction of the time. Her quick reading completely ruins the casual,
terrifying nature of Lord Summerisle's being. And check this out;
Willow leaving Summersisle all those years ago and meeting Edward was
all a plot to become pregnant, and lead him here some ten years later,
after the crops were scheduled to unexpectedly fail.
That, my friends, wins my award for plot hole perfection. The insinuation that all of this was laid out years before the crops (which cannot, in fact, fail, being dependant not on environmental circumstances but on controlled animal behavior) failed, is demeaning both to the audience and the crew working with this horrendous treatment.
So then Eddy shoots at the encroaching figures, but his gun is empty
(which is obvious, of course, since he made sure it wasn't a little
while ago). The villagers come closer, only to be drop kicked by Cage's
awesome ninja skills, but they best him in the end. They lay him down,
and, off-screen, you hear two teeth-clenching bone shatters, followed
by a scream. Don't think that was effective, though, since the scream
is followed by Cage screaming, "My legs! My LEEEGGS!!" I guess Neil
LaBute doesn't understand that it's supposed to be funny when they say
that on SpongeBob.
The Wicker Man shows up, says hi to everybody, and the inevitable
finally happens - the hero is dead. But, unlike in the 1973 version,
you just couldn't care at all. Even if the scene were AS effective as
it is in the original (which it's not), at this point, it wouldn't
matter if you ripped every one of his fingers off before burning him -
The scene, like the rest of the film, is lame.
There's a scene after that, which is pointless, worthless, stupid,
horrible, badly acted, badly conceived, and badly shot. It seems to scream, "Let's have a sequel!" and "IT BEGINS ANEW!" at the top of its proverbial lungs. Abominable.
Cut to black.
The Wicker Man '06 fails in every possible way a film can fail. The
script is hackneyed, the acting laughable, the story butchered, the
plot holes gaping, the direction uninspired, the editing
sub-sub-standard, the soundtrack, while including some cool sound
effects, is tame, the scares moronic, the terror nonexistent, the
I really hope I've gotten through to you all.
Thanks for your time.