Time: 102 Minutes
Age Rating: Violence
Nicolas Cage as Edward Malus
Ellen Burstyn as Sister Summersisle
Kate Beahan as Sister Willow Woodward
Leelee Sobieski as Sister Honey
Frances Conroy as Dr. T.H. Moss
Molly Parker as Sister Rose/Sister Thorn
Diane Delano as Sister Beech
Director: Neil LaBute
Police officer Edward Malus (Nicolas Cage) reaches a private island to help his ex-fiancee (Kate Beahan) find her missing girl. The community she lives in follows an odd cult and he must locate the girl before she is killed in the name of sacrifice.
I’ve been meaning to watch The Wicker Man remake for some time. The original starring Christopher Lee was actually quite good, and worth watching for those who like horror movies. The remake however is generally regarded as hilariously bad, even by horror remake standards, and is particularly known for Nicolas Cage going crazy (and that’s saying a lot). For the record I went in expecting the worst, and the remake certainly lived up to all the talk. It is astoundingly bad, yet as that made for an entertaining movie to watch, at least for me.
From the very beginning you can tell that something is off about this movie. It starts with a brief scene with Nicolas Cage as a cop seeing a truck crash into a car and failing to get the people inside out before it explodes. That opening moment of the truck crash is referenced quite a bit however in both dreams and even random jumpscares. I get that Cage’s character is supposed to be haunted by that moment but there is no resolution for it, and doesn’t connect to the main story in any way outside of both that and his current investigation somewhat involving fire. There is no reason for it to be here. It doesn’t get any better from there. The writing is quite bad. The most significant change over the original is that instead of it being about Paganism vs Catholicism, it’s men vs women here, which isn’t particularly scary or disturbing. If director Neil LaBute really wanted to stick with this concept, then it would have to be a satire or actually say something about gender politics (mishandled or not). However nothing is really said, it’s just an island of all women who perform rituals, men only exist on the island as workers and are used for reproduction, and that’s the extent of it all. I have no idea what Neil LaBute was trying to do with this, because once again this concept isn’t scary in the slightest. It becomes more funny more than anything, which would be fine if it was intentional. Speaking of horror, the attempts at being scary are laughable. Scare scenes aside, it fails to build a creepy or tense atmosphere. The dialogue is quite unnatural, and none of the characters feel normal or real here, and this is even before we get onto the island of the pagan people.
There are plenty of inconsistencies in the plot that you can pick at endlessly. For one, this movie primarily takes place on a secluded island with no technology or phone reception whatsoever, yet somehow they have a website that Cage looks up early on, that’s just one thing that’s out of place. However most important of all, once you know what’s going on and everything is revealed, it’s just doesn’t make sense. Without spoiling anything, if certain characters were smart enough, this plot would’ve been only 30 minutes long. There’s an endless amount of funny moments throughout the movie, all involving Nicolas Cage. Cage forcing someone off a bike at gunpoint, he dresses up as a bear and punching someone in the face, him screaming wanting to know how a doll got burnt, Cage getting angry in general, the list goes on. Then of course comes a certain infamous moment involving Cage and bees towards the end of the movie, which is actually a deleted scene only seen on the special edition. While I expected those moments, I was also entertained by how weird and questionable many of the writing and directing choices were.
Nicolas Cage really is the star of the show, and as weird as much of the movie is, it wouldn’t have been even nearly as entertaining without him. His character isn’t really strange or crazy, it’s a rather typical and generic horror movie protagonist if anything, but the writing and dialogue mixed with Cage’s acting style just made it come across as bizarrely hilarious to watch. His highlight moments is when his character is just frustrated in the third act of the movie, he goes absolutely nuts and it is absolutely glorious. The rest of the cast are there but aren’t all that good. Somehow they managed to get Ellen Burstyn to play the pagan leader, and really they could’ve cast anyone in that role.
Neil LaBute is the director of this movie, and his work in this movie isn’t that good. Apparently LaBute has made some decent movies, but you wouldn’t know this from watching his take on the Wicker Man. It’s not scary in the slightest, from the attempts at being unsettling, to the jumpscares. There are three jumpscares through the use of trucks alone. I know that bees are meant to be like a big thing for this island of cultists and is meant to be creepy, but it’s not scary in the slightest. In terms of positive things, I guess the production design is alright.
2006’s The Wicker Man is really bad on pretty much all fronts, although if you’ve even heard of this movie you already know that from its reputation alone. If you are looking for a legitimately good horror movie about a cult and was hoping for that in this movie, skip it and go with the 70s original. If you like so-bad-it’s-good movies and/or you like seeing Nicolas Cage act over the top, this is definitely for you and you should definitely check it out.