The Wicker Man (2006)

"Weak"

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

Wind River Movie Review

Wind River Movie Review

After writing the superb Sicario and Hell or High Water, Taylor Sheridan moves back into...

The Vault Movie Review

The Vault Movie Review

Filmmakers Dan Bush and Conal Byrne attempt a mash-up of a frantic heist movie with...

Goon: Last of the Enforcers Movie Review

Goon: Last of the Enforcers Movie Review

The 2012 Canadian comedy Goon was one of those surprising little films that snuck up...

Detroit Movie Review

Detroit Movie Review

After The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty, Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal reteam to...

Logan Lucky Movie Review

Logan Lucky Movie Review

Good news: Steven Soderbergh's well-publicised retirement from directing only lasted about four years. He's back...

American Made Movie Review

American Made Movie Review

An enjoyably freewheeling tone and Tom Cruise's star wattage combine to make this an entertaining...

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power Movie Review

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power Movie Review

It's been a decade since Al Gore's wake-up-call documentary won the Oscar. And here he...

Advertisement
The Hitman's Bodyguard Movie Review

The Hitman's Bodyguard Movie Review

It really doesn't matter that this movie is utterly ridiculous, because the central pairing of...

Final Portrait Movie Review

Final Portrait Movie Review

A relaxed, amusing true story about noted Swiss painter and sculptor Alberto Giacometti, this sharply...

Tom of Finland Movie Review

Tom of Finland Movie Review

Finnish artist Tuoko Laaksonen used the name "Tom of Finland" as he drew explicit illustrations...

A Ghost Story Movie Review

A Ghost Story Movie Review

Filmmaker David Lowery reunites the stars from his offbeat Western Ain't Them Bodies Saints for...

Atomic Blonde Movie Review

Atomic Blonde Movie Review

From the co-director of John Wick, this similarly styled action romp puts Charlize Theron front...

Girls Trip Movie Review

Girls Trip Movie Review

This movie's premise basically sounds like The Hangover with added black girl power. But it's...

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie Movie Review

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie Movie Review

There's so much manic energy in this animated action comedy that it can't help but...

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.