Directed by: Neil LaBute
Premise: A remake of the 1973 film. A troubled police officer (Nicolas Cage) travels to a private island on the East Cost when his former fiancé needs his help to find her missing daughter. On the island, Cage’s character attempts to unravel the mystery of the missing child amid a neo-pagan community.
What Works: The Wicker Man has some creepy moments, especially in the opening, that win it some style points.
What Doesn’t: It is no exaggeration to say The Wicker Man is a disaster of a film. On a storytelling level, it meanders and scenes go by with no advancement of the mystery. Despite having a dramatic and workable McGuffin with the missing child, The Wicker Man is completely unable to create any dramatic tension or sense of urgency. Cage appears to know he is in a loser and it shows through in his phoned-in his performance. The pagan community in the film comes off as a bunch of silly tree huggers rather than a threatening cult. The portrayal of the community is further problematic for its misrepresentation of paganism. The film gets all of its facts wrong and the portrayal of these pagans and their rituals goes beyond mere sloppiness and into bigotry. This version of The Wicker Man has more in common with the anti-Semitic film The Eternal Jew than it does with The Devil Rides Out. The ending of the picture caps this debacle with a twist that comes from nowhere, unintentionally funny dialogue from Cage, a bear suit, and a denouement that is just tagged on.
Bottom Line: Put simply, this new version of The Wicker Man is one of the biggest debacles of 2006. It is so bad that it may actually be worth viewing on late night cable, if only to see Nicolas Cage running around the woods in a bear costume.
Episode: #109 (September 10, 2006)