REVIEW: The Wicker Man
Wow! The plot thickens. I didn’t even know you had a plot.
– Officer Pete (I am not making that up) to Detective Edward Malus (Nicolas Cage), The Wicker Man
Occasionally, you see a movie that you love. You love every moment of it. You think that every part of it is perhaps part of the greatest cinematic experience you’ve ever been a part of. Even if it’s torrented illegally, you think that it’s the bees knees. Avatar was like that for me. The Wicker Man was not. However, The Wicker Man is the movie of the two that I would throw on at parties, throw on when watching with friends or throw on when alone and in dire need of fast, stupid entertainment. The Wicker Man is the movie I’d have to throw my hands up at if someone wanted to convince me that Nicolas Cage was a bad actor and used this as proof. I remain convinced that Cage read through the script, recognized it immediately as terrible and thus gave the worst performance of his life on purpose.
Everything you need to know about The Wicker Man is conveyed before the first line is even spoken. After the production logos come up on the screen, the credits fade in. All y’all typeface geeks out there? Get ready to know exactly what I mean while everyone else has to open their word processing software and check the font. The opening titles are in all caps Papyrus. Does this movie have any Egyptian themes? Does it have any Native North American themes? Does it have any possible justification for using Papyrus for its titles? And it’s not that it’s a bad typeface for simply being in the movie–Avatar had Papyrus subtitles and was still a great movie. It’s that it’s a typeface you can find in Microsoft Word 2003 that’s popular with people who don’t quite know what typefaces are supposed to do (and Randall Munroe). The closing credits are in Times New Roman. Come on. Just–come the crap on, what the–come on.
The people who made this movie cared about as much as the people who made The Attack of the The Eye Creatures. Or at least the people slapping the titles on after production cared that much. It reflects the overall experience of watching this movie better than any review ever could. The movie is a slapdash piece of crap tossed together by people who were somewhat familiar with the title of the original horror masterpiece The Wicker Man where Nicolas Cage does his level best to sabotage the production from the inside. I may not quite respect Nicolas Cage as an actor–he chooses his projects indiscriminately, caring more about receiving his paycheque on a steady basis than making movies to make art. When he took Kick-Ass, he took the gig to stretch his legs and be excited about his role. When he took this, he took the money and turned in one of the most brilliantly poor performances in all of film.
It’s too bad no one gave the memo to the rest of the actors in this picture. Molly Parker is in this movie. She’s one of my favourite independent Canadian actors, managing to bring humanity to a necrophiliac in Kissed. That’s not an easy job to do, and she does it very well. I’m sure she took this gig to get paid so she could do more independent features. A woman of her caliber should not be taking a movie this bad as seriously as she did unless there are damn good reasons in her bank account. I love Molly Parker, based solely on her performance in Kissed. That movie is a ticket to do whatever else you want in your career. Free pass, you’ll always be golden in my books. You go, Molly Parker. Give him the bike.
This movie is a plotless, uninteresting mess of poor writing and misogyny. Nothing happens, nothing is found out. The dialogue is as stilted as can possibly be–the movie is supposed to be horror. There is no horror. Some horror movies seek to establish a mood of tension. Some go for lots of gore and assume you cringe because you’re frightened. This one doesn’t have any gore, so it must be going for a tense mood. Except there is no tension. Conversations revolve around things that will never be brought up again, things are taken as clues that are really just discarded by the ending and overall, nothing in this movie matters to any other part of it. When Nicolas Cage spends the last thirty minutes or so, punching every woman in the village in the face, it isn’t a triumph of hero over creepy village. It’s better accompanied by the Benny Hill theme.
“What’s in the bag? Is it a shark or something?” You never find out. “Did someone unpack my bag? Because I’m missing some tapes.” That goes nowhere. There’s a creepy kid who dies in the first five minutes and goes on to haunt Nicolas Cage for the rest of the movie cos she sort of looks like the missing kid on the island he’s been called to. Then, all of them are replaced with bees. Kid? Bees. His friends? Bees. He’s deathly allergic to bees. Strangely enough, that comes up again at the end of the movie. Odd, how the one plot line they had to tie up was also the one they based the movie around. In 1973, it was creepily accurate Paganism. Now, it’s just bees.
Everyone loves an offensively poorly made movie now and again. I try not to be the kind of person to enjoy anything ironically–I like laughing at comedies and being scared at horror movies. But there are a few movies that are just so trenchantly and unforgivably bad, just entirely artistically inept that you have to love them for the comic value of their mistakes. Of course, the other way of saying this is “KILLING ME WON’T BRING BACK YOUR GOD DAMN HONEY”
or perhaps “AUGH NO NOT THE BEES NOT THE BEES AAAAAAAAUGH OH NO MY EYES EEEYYYYYYES AAAAAUGH AAAUGHRblblblrghrgh” ZERO STARS