Originally Published Sunday 12th October 2008
The Wicker Man (2006)
When I first entered into the 27 Days I suspected that there would be two demons that I would have to slay. The state of horror movies coupled with the state of Hollywood today has fostered the twin demons of sequels and remakes. As I was drawing up the list of movies I was to watch, I feared that I’d end up with rakes of sequels, especially the Nightmare on Elm Streets as I have the box set. Remakes are in many ways more worrying than sequels as nearly every time Hollywood has another go at a film they make a mess of it.
There are exceptions to this rule but the remake of The Wicker Man is not one of them.The retelling of The Wicker Man starts in modern day California where Nicholas Cage is working as a bike cop. He is involved in an incident where a mother and daughter are killed and as a result of the emotional trauma takes some time off work. While he’s off an old flame writes to him seeking his help to find her missing daughter. Nick obliges for the want of something better to do and heads off to the little island where she lives. There he discovers a strange agricultural commune that has developed into a matriarchal society and the women who run the place deny that the missing girl ever existed.
The children opening their books to page 54 had the surprising result of conjuring up Nicholas Cage
After a little digging by our Nicky the islanders change their tune and claim that the girl is in fact dead and her mother delusional with grief. Nick doesn’t believe this, especially when the girl’s mother reveals that Nick is the father. He develops the notion that his daughter is still alive and that she is to be sacrificed by the islanders as part of their weird religion in order to prevent another failure of the crops like the previous year. Trying to save his little girl Nick finds himself at the mercy of the islanders and their pagan ways.
The basic story of the Wicker Man is unchanged from the original in that a cop goes to an island looking for a little girl and things end badly but the heart of the film has been well and truly removed. In this version the battle isn’t between people of different religions but instead a battle of the sexes, Nick’s character isn’t a pious policeman devout in his beliefs up against a group he considers to be heathens but just a whingy twat who likes so shout at and punch women and this lack of depth and tendency towards domestic violence mean that you don’t care what happens to him. As for the rest of the characters in the film, they’re so one dimensional that they barely register.
The remade Wicker Man suffers cruelly on the internet as several of its scenes have been made into YouTube comedy bits and most of them are better than the film itself. It’s hard to believe that the film-makers didn’t realise how ridiculous the script was and how poorly the movie was going to turn out, for example there are several scenes where Nick hallucinates about the accident that killed the mother and daughter in the opening of the film while on a boat. He has visions about a truck hitting a car, on a boat. How could anyone be startled by those visions or believe that they were actually happening? It really is hard not to laugh at what are meant to be deeply serious, dramatic moments. Also, Nick is a junkie addicted to Prozac.
Two thumbs down for the remade Wicker Man.