The Wickerman Film Review

Filled with twists, turns and predictable camera work uniform to contemporary Hollywood, “The Wicker Man,” a remake of the 1973 film with the same name, is perfect for a run of the mill Saturday night horror flick. Despite the similar dialogue and the same twisty ending, the two movies are not parallel. Rather, the separate plot lines are like two winding roads that end up in the same town. The original movie, directed by Robin Hardy and based on the original novel and screenplay by Anthony Shaffer, has been referred to as genius in its own right. It is considered to be a cult film based on its ability to confirm people’s worst suspicions of remote islands. The nudist, pagan society created by Shaffer in the original film made the hidden land of Summersisle a somewhat believable myth. It was made at a time when filmmakers liked to portray subjects that were not so much scary as they were psychologically thrilling. In the 1973 original, a policeman is summoned to the island by a letter saying there was a girl that had gone missing. The island of Summersisle, located off the coast of Scotland, is, from the very beginning, unwelcoming. The inhabitants of the isle and their ways seem to be generally male-oriented, extreme and creepy in an indeterminate way. The 2006 remake, directed by Neil LaBute, is set off the coast of Washington is similar, but has obviously been rebuffed to appeal to today’s audiences. LaBute, who also wrote the “Wicker Man,” likely added characters to make the cast more star-studded. The extensive nudity for which the original film was known has indeed been cut out in the remake – it’s not the 70s anymore. Nicolas cage plays police officer Edward Malus in the new version and finds the eerie situation placing itself in his lap. When he is led to the isolated island, he finds a society just as strange as in the original film, but this go around it is extremely female oriented. The original community, which was lead by Lord Summersile (played by Christopher Lee), is headed in the 2006 version by a woman, Sister Summersisle, played by Ellen Burstyn. The biggest divergence from the original film though, is that the story starts with Edward Malus and how the community of Summersisle entered his life and beckoned him to the island. But in the 1973 version, it is Malus who intrudes on them. All in all, both films depict an isolated community with a realistic eye, causing the audience to question their own idea of reality. Both of these films allude to the notion that no religion is perfect; whether Paganism or Christianity, both sides have their downfalls, which, in “The Wicker Man,” inevitably leads to a creepy conclusion. A cult classic cannot really be argued, but, for arguement sake, the new film version of Anthony Shaffer’s novel is filled with the thick plot that the American audience craves so much, and twists that hit harder than in the orignal. Still, it’s not going to make cult status any time soon.