The Wicker Man (2006)

"Grim"

The Wicker Man (2006) Review


The new version of The Wicker Man is a surprisingly tony addition to the new class of horror remakes, adapted and directed not by a disgraced former action director or a newbie music-video director but arthouse mainstay Neil LaBute; starring not a WB star paying his or her dues, but Nicolas Cage.

I haven't seen the original Wicker Man (or read the novel on which it was based), but apparently the major change to the story - about a cop visiting a remote island commune to investigate the disappearance of a young girl - is, appropriate to LaBute's resume (In the Company of Men, The Shape of Things), a gender switch. Whereas the original island was overseen by Christopher Lee, this one has Ellen Burstyn as Sister Summersisle, who oversees a flock of women conducting themselves with creepy calm. Men are present, in tiny clusters, but seem resigned mainly to lifting things in silence.

Edward Malus (Cage) is summoned to the island by his long-missing ex-girlfriend, now Sister Willow (Kate Beahan), who is convinced that her young daughter has been abducted by someone on the island. In a show of sisterly solidarity, the other Sisters refuse to acknowledge the missing girl's existence; in a show of manly stoicism (or is it deference?), the men say nothing.

Cage initially seems to be in Hollywood everyman mode as the haunted cop, but, as the movie's main man, he has the space to give a typically unboring performance, as Malus becomes equally pompous and frustrated during his investigation. It's one of the movie's best details that Malus isn't really a detective, but a highway patrolman who doesn't seem to know much about real investigations; he flashes his badge, barks questions, and does his best to coarsen up this would-be utopia. The women look cold and prim, and have none of it.

It's not clear what point LaBute is trying to make with Malus's clumsy masculinity or the women's smug avoidance; keeping his past work in mind, he most likely takes them all as creeps of some kind or another.

But if LaBute has odd, creepy fun with Cage, he has a lot less luck with the movie itself - with horror-film musts like, say, suspense, or scares. The rest of the characters pop in and out of the movie, taking turns glowering or quavering in Cage's presence, and LaBute's dialogue sounds stuck in playwright mode - stiff and overly precise. In his dramas and dark comedies, LaBute's characters speak with undertones and overtones of menace; when faced with an actual horror movie, that menace doesn't break the surface. Instead, the movie has a lot of halfhearted conversations and pedestrian bits from the horror playbook: Cage sneaking around at night; Cage having disturbing visions; Cage flipping out towards a twist ending (preserved from the original I'm told) that (in this case) raises as many questions as it answers.

It's a shame, because LaBute's bloody gender battles could make a fine garnish to the routine of modern horror; he should take another shot someday (keeping Cage around couldn't hurt). His Wicker Man, 2006 style, has plenty of superficial intrigue and potential interpretations, but nothing there in the middle to connect those ends. The whole movie is a wicker doll - competently constructed and empty in the middle.

Fish heads, fish heads, roly poly fish heads.



Facts and Figures

Genre: Horror/Suspense

Box Office Worldwide: $38.8M

Budget: $40M

Production compaines: Warner Bros., Alcon Entertainment, Millennium Films, Saturn Films, Emmett/Furla Films, Equity Pictures Medienfonds GmbH & Co. KG III, Nu Image Entertainment GmbH, Brightlight Pictures, Wicker Man Productions

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2 / 5

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Edward Malus, as Sister Summersisle, as Sister Willow, as Dr. Moss, as Sister Honey, as Sister Rose / Sister Thorn, as Sister Beech, Michael Wiseman as Officer Pete, Erika-Shaye Gair as Rowan Woodward, as Truck Stop Waitress, as Station Wagon Mom, as Sea Plane Pilot, Mary Black as Sister Oak, Christine Willes as Sister Violet, Tania Saulnier as Attendant #1, as Bar Guy #1, as Bar Guy #2

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Captain America: Civil War Movie Review

Captain America: Civil War Movie Review

After the formulaic thrills of The Winter Soldier and Age of Ultron, Marvel's Avengers were...

Son of Saul Movie Review

Son of Saul Movie Review

From Hungary, this year's Oscar-winning foreign film is a remarkably fresh take on the Holocaust...

Demolition Movie Review

Demolition Movie Review

With its darkly emotive themes and brittle humour, this well-made drama by Jean-Marc Vallee (Dallas...

Bastille Day Movie Review

Bastille Day Movie Review

An attempt to muscle in on Luc Besson's Taken-style of thriller, this is an odd...

Secret Cinema Presents: 28 Days Later Movie Review

Secret Cinema Presents: 28 Days Later Movie Review

Expectations are a problem with this year's Secret Cinema event. After the jaw-dropping, goosebump-inducing surprises...

Jane Got a Gun Movie Review

Jane Got a Gun Movie Review

With its grindingly low-key tension and unusual perspectives, this Western has a chance to revamp...

Criminal Movie Review

Criminal Movie Review

Almost criminally entertaining, this preposterous thriller mixes buckets of humour and emotion into the violent,...

Advertisement
The Jungle Book Movie Review

The Jungle Book Movie Review

Using remarkably photorealistic animation, this remake of the 1967 Disney classic is warm and enjoyable,...

Eye in the Sky Movie Review

Eye in the Sky Movie Review

Almost forensic in its approach, this smart thriller explores a drone strike from a variety...

Midnight Special Movie Review

Midnight Special Movie Review

Gifted director Jeff Nichols takes on another genre in his fourth film with actor Michael...

Boulevard Movie Review

Boulevard Movie Review

This dark, introspective drama hinges on one of Robin Williams' final film performances before his...

The Huntsman: Winter's War Movie Review

The Huntsman: Winter's War Movie Review

Aside from success at the box office, there was nothing about 2012's rather uneven fantasy...

Black Mountain Poets Movie Review

Black Mountain Poets Movie Review

It's fairly obvious that the cast and crew began making this film with only the...

Victoria Movie Review

Victoria Movie Review

One of the most breathtaking films of the year, this ambitious story shifts from a...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.