7 February 2011

Clarky's Review: The Wicker Man

As noted in Ally’s review it was with a great deal of shame that I left horror club last week, after revealing the fact that not only had I not seen The Wicker Man, but I had also seen the remake (maybe one of the most offensive words to any member of horror club) and it starred Nic Cage (maybe one of the most offensive actors to any member of the cinemagoing public, although I will make an exception for The Rock).

Unfortunately, as Fin noted, the fact that The Wicker Man is so deeply imprinted on the social consciousness (especially if you’re British) somewhat lessened the impact of the final scene of the film, and to an extent my enjoyment of the film.

The acting is fantastic and there is not one minute of wasted time up on screen, everything builds up to that final iconic scene. But as noted before, knowing the ending really does hamper your enjoyment of the film. I can only imagine the impact that this had on the public when it was first released, it must have been incredible. Unfortunately, the film did not have the same impact on me.

This may also be partly due to the fact that whilst there are some creepy and weird moments, they’re not as creepy and weird as some other films we’ve seen at horror club. I’m not for one moment claiming that singing a song with the patrons of your bar about how hot your daughter is, having a mass orgy in the middle of a field or breast feeding whilst holding an egg is normal, but having watched the likes of Rosemary’s Baby this season, and Don’t Look Know last season (as well as watching Black Swan at the cinema this year) there are more unsettling movies out there. Part of this may be due to the fact that after watching the aforementioned films I have become desensitised and disaffected! I have no doubt that if I had watched this movie without knowing anything about it, and before these other films, the film would have had a far greater impact on me.

Another reason the film may not have had the same impact on myself as my fellow horror club members. is that I’m not religious. Sure the locals were weird, but they were just going about their daily business. It’s Sergeant Howies disgust at their behaviour and lack of morality that drives on his investigation, and leads him to his appointment with the Wicker Man. He came of his own free will. Part of me sympathised with the locals, mainly due to Lord Summerisle (played perfectly by Christopher Lee). Whilst there are sinister undertones, the first few occasions we meet him he is a likeable and charismatic character. And how can you dislike anyone who dresses up in full kilt regalia to play the piano! I think this is the intention of the filmmakers and, again, at the time this would have made the ending even more shocking.

Is this the greatest British horror film ever. No, not in my opinion, but there is plenty to enjoy (including the soundtrack) and I would definitely recommend this film to everyone, and feel that if you consider yourself a film fan you really have to see this film (finally I can now tick this box!). As noted above many of the reasons that the film didn’t have the same impact on me was because I was so familiar with the material. If you went into this without knowing anything about it, I have no doubt it would blow you away on first viewing.

But that’s not the question you’re really interested in – is it better than the Nic Cage version? Yes, infinitely. However, I would recommend that you stab yourself in the eye with a rusty screwdriver and clean the wound with some bleach rather than watch the Nic Cage Wicker Man.

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