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Overall Rating
1.71

Awesome: 1.37%
Worth A Look: 10.96%
Average: 4.11%
Pretty Bad: 24.66%
Total Crap58.9%

5 reviews, 43 user ratings


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Wicker Man, The (2006)
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by Rob Gonsalves

"Neil. Neil. Neil. BAD idea."
1 stars

I've seen many ill-advised horror remakes in my time. "The Wicker Man" may be the worst ever. It's like a "Psycho" remake without the shower scene; a "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" remake without the chainsaw; an "Amityville Horror" remake without the house. You get the idea.

Writer/director Neil LaBute, whose bitter social experiments I've supported in the past, has taken the 1973 British classic -- about a devoutly Christian cop investigating a disappearance on a devoutly pagan island -- and removed most of the religion and all of the point. The story now seems to be about how power corrupts and how a matriarchal society wouldn't be much kinder and gentler than a patriarchy. That's debatable, but this tale was never structured to make that argument.

Neil, buddy, how about I remake In the Company of Men and change the whole point of the film? Would that be cool with you?

A lost-looking Nicolas Cage steps into Edward Woodward's shoes as highway patrolman Edward Malus, who's having trouble getting over an accident he witnessed (and had a small hand in causing). This backstory does nothing for the narrative except to give Cage an excuse to go googly-eyed whenever he sees a pigtailed blonde girl, which, as the movie lumbers along, is often. Anyway, Edward receives a note from ex-girlfriend Willow (Kate Beahan), whose daughter has disappeared from Summersisle, the remote private island off the West Coast that Willow grew up on and eventually returned to. Edward swings into action, arriving on the island only to be greeted by a sea of uncooperative female faces. Summersisle, you see, is a matriarchy, though there are pitiful-looking men straggling about too, relegated to scutwork and breeding.

The original Wicker Man contrasted Edward Woodward's uptight Catholicism with the natives' freewheeling, sexually open paganism. For a matriarchal remake to make any sense, Cage's character would have to swagger onto Summersisle with smug white-male privilege, the way Woodward's cop brandished his close personal friendship with Jesus. But Edward Malus isn't written or played that way; he's just a guy, a decent man, and when he becomes annoyed with the women of Summersisle it's not out of male disdain but simply because he wants to find a missing girl and they're giving him the runaround. His disdain and distrust now seem justified. Needless to say, all the accurate pagan details the original film so scrupulously planted are absent here. It's now a vaguely pagan society whose real sin, the movie seems to say, is that the bitches are in charge.

Ellen Burstyn shows up in full priestessy efflorescence as Sister Summersisle, the distaff equivalent of Christopher Lee's Lord Summerisle in the original, but she isn't given the dialogue to compete with Lee's performance. The debate about Christianity versus the old gods? Gone. So Burstyn is left stranded in a role almost as hollow as the titular object. Sister Summersisle does refer to her ancestors moving to the island to get away from oppressive patriarchy, but LaBute doesn't express the irony that the resulting matriarchy is just as oppressive, nor does the islanders' hostility seem particularly male-directed. I can't really call this Wicker Man misogynist; if it is, it's a very flaccid form of it. It's yet another gender power struggle in the director's portfolio, this time hung onto a story that doesn't wear it well. The Wicker Man should be about the conflict of belief systems, not the battle of the sexes.

After a while, as you may have heard, you do indeed get to see Nicolas Cage running around in a bear suit, and the movie does recreate the original's much-discussed ending, though without a tenth of its force and eloquence. (In the original, Christopher Lee leads his followers in a rousing rendition of "Sumer Is Icumen In" while Woodward shouts various Biblical quotations; in the remake, the islanders chant "The drone must die" while Cage shrieks "Noooo! Noooo! You bitches!" Which is as good an indication as any of how far screenwriting has fallen.) The Wicker Man was always constructed as an atmospheric piece in which a believer finds himself among other believers, doubts his own beliefs, and finally ascends to a higher purpose amid a thick subtext of eroticism and the use of faith as an imposition of the will. This movie believes in nothing -- except, perhaps, that women would enslave and torch men if they had the power, so let's not give them power.

But, hey, any movie can benefit from reinterpretation, right, Neil? How about I remake "The Shape of Things" for a cast of animated cats? Doesn't that sound cool?

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=15159&reviewer=416
originally posted: 09/04/06 09:46:39
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Horror Remakes: For more in the Horror Remakes series, click here.

User Comments

4/14/13 Melissa NOT THE BEES! THEY'RE IN MY EYES! (btw if you get the joke in my name, kudos) 1 stars
8/27/12 David Pollastrini A horrible remake of a horrible original 1 stars
12/05/09 Chris F the biggest pile of shite ive ever seen 1 stars
8/01/09 Josie Cotton is a goddess The original chilled me to the bone; the remake just made me hungery for honey. Mmmm honey. 2 stars
9/19/08 David Cohen Not the bees! Not the bees! Don;t try and tell me this wasn't supposed to be funny 1 stars
8/13/08 PAUL SHORTT IDIOTIC, PRESUMPTUOUS AND DEFINATELY UNNECESSARY 1 stars
7/06/08 art WATCH THE ORIGINAL INSTEAD 1 stars
3/23/08 Nick I got tricked into watching this movie. Wheres the ending. Brick the producers 1 stars
3/22/08 Matt Only good thing about this movie was when Nicholas Cage punched the shit out of that bitch 1 stars
3/02/08 Pamela White very very overrated 1 stars
11/19/07 Steve M One of the worst films I've ever seen. 1 stars
11/09/07 Naghma I cannot believe Nicholas Cage agreed to do this movie. One of the worst movies ever. 1 stars
10/24/07 Ivana Mann Easily the funniest movie of 2006.Too bad it's supposed to be a thriller."My legs,my legs!" 1 stars
8/01/07 mr.mike somewhat overly bashed , but not good. 2 stars
6/11/07 al smith fucking shit hollywood are fast running out of ideas 1 stars
6/04/07 fools♫gold the Fourth...Extreme; a sweetenedreminder forpeople towatch theoriginalagain. Above a 9/10 4 stars
4/24/07 bwah fukin horrible, i wish he would have killled those bitches but they took his ammo 1 stars
3/17/07 Luisa First Nicolas Cage flick that actually sucks!!! 1 stars
12/25/06 ALDO Someone please kill this director seriously worse movie i've ever seen terrible ending 1 stars
12/07/06 Azem Nicholas Cage rules, but I really don't get it why did he accept this role, the movie sucks 1 stars
11/05/06 Kate Considering LaButes past work, I place the blame on the producers. 3 stars
10/15/06 William Goss Laughably fascinating hokum. Third-act bitchsmacking spree is priceless. Coda stalls it. 2 stars
10/01/06 Swish worse than the original, is that even possible, yup somehow they pulled it off, amazing 1 stars
9/27/06 Raj Burn the director! 1 stars
9/15/06 David C Absolute worst movie I have ever seen. Ever. 1 stars
9/15/06 Kimberly Cole Zemke wish I could get that two hours back 1 stars
9/15/06 Whyteeemendee Incredible voice acting, especially during the "legs" part. 2 stars
9/14/06 Daniel Piece of shit, worst film ever 1 stars
9/13/06 Edward Connell How far will the diector take you,appreciated for the work. 5 stars
9/11/06 Monster W. Kung Pathetic piece of crap. Cage is one of the worst actors of all time. 1 stars
9/10/06 malcolm good but not as good as original 3 stars
9/09/06 michael pretty fair 3 stars
9/08/06 Tiffany Thought it was really dumb. Not scary either 2 stars
9/06/06 Tony People were laughing and yelling at this movie! Save your money!!! 1 stars
9/05/06 Rob Entertaining for an 11 year old...maybe a mildy retarded 12 year old 1 stars
9/05/06 Susan W The worst movie I've seen in a long time 1 stars
9/05/06 Pat Bresnahan Total waiste of time and money 1 stars
9/04/06 Lance M. I thought I was going to wet myself during the bear scene!!! 2 stars
9/03/06 Holcomb I can't say it enough, THE MOVIE SUCKED! 1 stars
9/03/06 Robin McCreery So very, very stupid 1 stars
9/03/06 Brandon "Oh, my legs!" is sure to be a popular catchphrase at all the best Pagan rituals this year. 1 stars
9/03/06 Ole Man Bourbon There were laughable lines, terrible scenes, but the movie was kinda ok overall somehow. 4 stars
9/02/06 Stubby The original WAS a classic...this is a disgrace to cinema. 1 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  01-Sep-2006 (PG-13)
  DVD: 19-Dec-2006

UK
  01-Sep-2006

Australia
  N/A




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