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Overall Rating

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 brianorndorf

"Well, Warner Brothers DID try to hide it"
1 stars

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the new “Wicker Man” doesn’t improve on the slightly overrated, but memorable cult classic of the 1970s. Nicolas Cage is fully caffeinated here, but writer/director Neil LaBute gets lost in his ambitions too easily, and the film gets away from him far too quickly.

Left mentally scarred after witnessing a roadside accident killing an innocent woman and her daughter, police officer Edward Malus (Nicolas Cage) cannot shake the images of the day out of his head. When a puzzling note from his former fiancée (Kate Beahan, “Flightplan”) arrives begging him to help find her lost daughter, Edward soon books passage for the remote Washington island where she resides. Once there, Edward begins his investigation, poking around a matriarchal society (run by Ellen Burstyn) where he doesn’t belong, and losing himself to the madness that is uncovered with every new step.

On paper, it seemed like a sure bet. A “Wicker Man” remake, starring Nicolas Cage, and directed by Neil LaBute? Count me in. Then came the awful one-sheet, the humiliating Labor Day weekend release date, and finally, the absence of a proper and respectful press screening. Now that the picture is out in the world to be seen…well, all the dodging makes sense now.

As much as it’s revered in horror circles, I don’t believe Robin Hardy’s 1973 feature “The Wicker Man” approaches the “classic” status some have bent over backwards to stamp on it. It’s an atmospheric movie, lead by a thundering lead performance from the great Edward Woodward (and the sly one from Christopher Lee), and includes an unforgettable climax that disturbs and provokes, like the best cinema of the 1970s should. It’s a cult treasure that tends to run a little loopy if not put in proper context, but its tendency to overheat was its greatest downfall.

Neil LaBute (who also scripts) doesn’t have much luck updating the story for modern audiences. The switch from a free-flowing Scottish pagan community to the matriarchal system is the largest alteration, but that robs the film of the primal sexual appeal the original held. In other words, no midnight orgies on the campground, and no nude Britt Ekland musical numbers here, my friends. LaBute has ripped all the sexual subtext and tension right out of the story, electing to turn to bees to put across the theme of pollination, or a lack thereof.

LaBute is a talented filmmaker, even if his button-pushing films rarely hit their intended targets. Yet, “Wicker Man” consistently eludes his good judgment, and soon the film is a real chore to watch. By robbing the film of its lust and eerie pagan undertones, the remake just becomes a series of impotent PG-13 suspense set-pieces, built on an ice cold mystery that never reaches a fever pitch.

Even good old reliable Nicolas Cage fumbles badly here. I normally adore when the actor goes overboard, but in “Wicker Man,” Cage’s instincts fail him. This is wildly miscalculated performance, and you can see in his desperate face that Cage was fully trusting LaBute to not make him look like a fool. As the actor goes bigger, LaBute doesn’t know how to use the performance, and when Cage is left without proper support, the results are ear-splitting. I give Cage credit for even attempting to walk in Woodward’s shoes here, but with LaBute slapping around the story so he can call it his own, the character is left a raving maniac instead of the frightening portrayal of bewilderment and sexual repression that it should’ve been.

When “Wicker Man” finally gets something going in the iconic final act, it brings along with it a host of unintentional laughs. The original film did such a masterful job getting under the skin, layering dread with bleak precision. In the remake, LaBute has Cage beating up women with karate kicks, and has placed an insulting coda on the film that screams of studio intervention of the worst kind. This is not progress.

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originally posted: 09/01/06 19:00:36
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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
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
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  01-Sep-2006 (PG-13)
  DVD: 19-Dec-2006



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