‘The Wicker Man’ (2006) Retro Review


Director: Neil Labute

Cast: Nicholas Cage, Ellen Burstyn, Kate Beahan, Bees

Plot: A police officer visits a private island to investigate the disappearance of his ex-girlfriends daughter.

Review: In 1973 a horror movie called ‘The Wicker Man’ was released and become known as a classic in suspense and dread. Thirty-three years later it is remade and quickly becomes a laughing stock. In the original the police receive a report from Summerisle, of the coast of Scotland, that a young girl is missing. A detective, who is also a devout Christian, is sent to investigate where he has his faith tested while exploring the islands neo-Wiccan rituals before discovering the terrible truth.

In this remake an American cop suffering from psychological trauma searches for his illegitimate daughter on an island occupied by people who worship bees.

Discovering the nature of the investigator and seeing him pushed to his limits was a major factor in the original, as we were on the same journey as he. In this version we start with Nicholas Cage witnesses some random mother and daughter being killed in a horrible accident, thus making him have to take pills or he gets all crazy as though this gives him some kind of ‘depth’. Also learning the missing girl is really his daughter is also a mishandled attempt to add something more to the character.

Nicholas Cage’s character could very possibly be mentally handicapped, or he possibly muddled the pages of his script. He’s quite often yelling and screaming at people without any provocation, then remains calm and sane while being provoked. The performance as a whole is terrible. He wanders around bleating at people about being a cop and occasionally slapping himself. My favourite moments comes when he gets caught in a swarm of bees and literally runs around in circles screaming.

The Cult of Bee-People is another terrible idea. Strangely enough, elements of the Wicca beliefs make their appearance – animal masks, etc – which only serves to muddle things. The bee worshipers don’t come across as anything but a pack of phenomenal morons, yet they still manage to outwit this so-called cop. Ellen Burstyn is also especially terrible, aping the performance by Christopher Lee as the charismatic leader in the original.

Badly written, badly directed and terribly acted, this is a smear against a classic film. If there’s any one part you need to see to sum up the whole film, watch Nic getting the bee treatment at the end:

NOT THE BEES! NOT THE BEES!

TWO outta TEN