The Wicker Man (12A)



Thriller (2006)
101mins US

Starring: Nicolas Cage, Ellen Burstyn, Molly Parker, Leelee Sobieski
Director: Neil LaBute
Listings: London | Rest of UK and Ireland

Contentious remake of Robin Hardy's seminal 1973 horror film about an inexperienced police officer, Edward Malus, who travels to a remote island to locate a missing child and stumbles upon a close-knit community devoted to strange Pagan practices. As Edward learns more about the locals and their beliefs, he unwittingly places his life in grave danger.

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Click here to read the interview of Nicolas Cage (Police Officer Edward Malus)
Click here to watch the trailer

LondonNet Film Review

The Wicker Man
The incessant buzzing you hear throughout The Wicker Man isn't coming from the beehives, which play a pivotal role in Neil LaBute's contentious remake...

The Wicker Man. Copyright: Lionsgate FilmsIt's blue bottles swarming over his excremental screenplay, which re-imagines Robin Hardy's seminal 1973 horror film as a plodding, unintentionally hilarious slice of hokum set on an idyllic island in the Pacific northwest.

As the plot unfolds with tiresome predictability, Nicolas Cage's blundering cop laments, "Every time I turn my head, there's something that doesn't make sense." We couldn't agree more: did none of the cast read the script before signing up? The narrative lurches from one preposterous, hammy interlude to the next, introducing a menagerie of supporting characters who serve no dramatic purpose whatsoever. As the film's hysterical finale approaches, Cage reverts to his wide-eyed lunatic routine, raving, "Something bad is about to happen, I can feel it!" That would be his career going up in flames.

The Oscar-winning actor plays highway patrolman Edward Malus, who suffers a mental breakdown after he witnesses a tragic accident. In the midst of his drug-addled emotional turmoil, Edward receives a letter from Willow Woodward ("We were engaged. We were close... then she took off on me," he handily informs a police colleague). In the letter, Willow reveals that her young daughter Rowan has gone missing on the island of Summersisle, where they both now live.

Edward ventures to the privately owned commune and begins waving around his police badge like a lunatic, which doesn't intimidate innkeeper Sister Beech (Diane Delano) one bit. She calmly notes that Edward has jurisdiction in California, not Washington. He responds by angrily crushing a honeybee with a beer tankard. "Now why would you want to go and do a thing like that?" she whimpers. "I'm allergic," he deadpans. Moments later, we see him unpacking hyperdermic needles marked Bee-Epi - a sure sign that Edward will be facing his fears later in the film.

When he finally meets Willow (Kate Beahan), she pointedly takes Edward to one side and whispers: "Be careful and believe nothing that you see or hear". Willow then confides that she is sure little Rowan (Erika-Shaye Gair) is still somewhere on the island. "Someone has taken her. I don't know who," she sobs. "If she's here, I will find her," replies Edward soothingly. His haphazard investigation leads to spooky encounters with teacher Sister Rose (Molly Parker) and island medic Dr Moss (Frances Conroy), and eventually an audience with the community's leader, Sister Summersisle (Ellen Burstyn), who tells the cop, "We love our men... we're just not subservient to them." The nameless husbands who till the fields would concur, if they didn't all seem to have had their tongues cut out.


The Wicker Man builds to the same shocking, downbeat denouement as the original film, accompanied by yet more of Cage's interminable wailing and Angelo Badalamenti's discordant orchestrations, which sound like a record being played too slow.

Cage delivers a performance, which oscillates between monotone and wildly demented. The discovery of a blackened child's doll causes him to yammer, "Why is it burned?" By the fourth repetition of the line in quick succession, it's difficult to know whether to laugh or marvel at his ability to keep a straight face regurgitating this nonsense. We hardly bat an eyelid when, later in the film, he forces a girl to relinquish her bicycle by pulling a gun and shrieking repeatedly: "Get off the bike!"

LaBute adapts liberally from the original screenplay penned by Anthony Shaffer, including the obvious nod to Edward Woodward in his choice of character names. Fans of the controversial writer-director will despair - The Wicker Man lacks the emotional intensity and daring of his previous films. They should console themselves by spotting the blink-and-you'll-miss-it cameo from Aaron Eckhart, who starred in some of LaBute's finer efforts.

- Sophie Abell

Click here to read the interview of Nicolas Cage (Police Officer Edward Malus)
Click here to watch the trailer

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Rest of UK and Irish Cinemas

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From Friday 13th October
To Thursday 19th October

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UK cinemas this week.
From Friday 20th October
To Thursday 26th October

Not showing at any
UK cinemas this week.


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