Wicker Man Redux (or resux)
My worst nightmares have come true. The Wicker Man will be in theatres again.
Not the movie starring Edward Woodward.
Now, you might think at first that I’m upset over this because The Wicker Man is an exploitation-film mishmash of various Pagan rites and beliefs that casts Pagans as devious, deviant sociopaths (decked out in twee faux-Victorian togs, for some reason).
But no. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. The real reason I shudder at the thought of a Wicker Man retread is that it was a really, really bad movie. I mean, I’m all for a creepy British thriller that borders on the silly: I’m bummed that Children of the Stones isn’t available in Canada yet. But c’mon…an island full of retro weirdies who mechanically carry out rituals plucked straight from The Golden Bough, for no apparent reason? With Britt Ecklund’s booty thrown in to keep people from falling asleep in the theatre? And the Equalizer marching woodenly through it all without really noticing that everything is just a bit…effed up? I know this movie has a cult following that puts Rocky Horror folks to shame, but really, people. It’s Children of the Corn meets Hair.
And the remake isn’t on a better path. Sure, it’s got a decent supporting cast, including Ellen Burstyn and Molly Parker. It has a veteran director/playwright at the helm (one of my personal faves, I’ll admit). It certainly has a fatter budget than the original, which could have put the word “shoestring” to shame.
But they’ve used the original screenplay by Anthony Shaffer (best known for his Agatha Christie scripts, and the totally decent two-man show Sleuth), which – as a I mentioned – is just the scariest bits of The Golden Bough laced with some generic T&A. The story isn’t particularly suspenseful or mysterious, since we know from the git-go that these people are secretly old-school Pagans. We just wait around for two hours while the copper plays catch-up.
The part of the clueless copper has been taken by Nicholas Cage, who all by himself is way creepier than an islandful of psychopathic Pagans.
The visual and emotional punch of the original film’s climactic scene – perhaps the only worthwhile scene in the entire film – will be dulled considerably by the viewers’ exposure to years of Burning Man festivals.
And the remake was directed by, of all people, Neil Labute. I love Neil Labute. As the master of tragi-comic, psychosexual drama that he is. I do not understand why such a talented Mormom misanthrope would want to touch this goofy piece of sh** with a yardstick.
But, alas, the deed is done. Another generation will watch The Wicker Man and thank God the Pagan way of life was persecuted into oblivion.