How’d it get burned?!
Director: Neil LaBute
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Ellen Burstyn
In this remake of the popular 1973 horror movie, Nicolas Cage plays a highway patrol officer who is emotionally disturbed after witness a firey car crash that resulted in the death of a small girl. As he considers leaving law enforcement, Cage gets a letter from his astrainged ex-finacee who has moved to small isolated island. Her daughter has disappeared and she needs expert help investigating the disappearance. When Cage arrives to the island, he quickly discovers a weird culture dominated by pagan rituals and religious fanaticism. In this weird environment Cage tries to find who (or what) made the little girl disappear.
Why it fails as a movie:
For a horror movie, The Wicker Man fails to deliver anything truly scary. Sure there are some weird images, but nothing that really gets under your skin. I guess if you were absurdly squeamish the scene of (spoilers) Nic Cage burning to death might be uncomfortable. Maybe. But overall there is nothing really exciting in the movie. Neil LaBute does not even resort to the horror classic of jump scares. It does not happen once. So that begs the question. Was LaBute actually trying to make a horror movie? If not, what was he trying to make? If I was trying to watch The Wicker Man as a real movie and had to choose one color to describe it I would choose beige. Everything in it is dull. The dialogue scenes are flat, the creepy parts aren’t that scary, the action is not thrilling. But, amidst all that blandness, one spark of life sticks out. Nicolas Cage.
Why you should watch it:
This is a quintessential Nicolas Cage movie. Because the movie is so dull, Nic sparkles on screen. He plays his role reserved at the beginning, sitting around in a depressed stupor for most of the first act. But once he gets on the investigation he starts picking up. The Wicker Man has all the classic Nic Cage qualities. He mumbles incoherently one moment and then turns into a screaming lunatic the next. His character traits are questionable and he just comes off like a creepy weirdo. (As a side note, this happens so much in his movies that I wonder if he tweaks the characters in his movies to give them that Nic Cage charm. I know that actors like Will Smith have writers that go and change scripts so that they are like a consistent brand across movies, so I wonder if Nic Cage has the same thing going for him. It would make sense. He is the same person in every movie.) As much as Neil LaBute fails at all other aspects of film making, he sure knows how to highlight and use Nic Cage. Really, watching Nic in action is the only reason to watch this movie. But that is reason enough. Nic has taken over the internet and has become a meme in his own right, so much so that a bad Nicolas Cage performance is actually a good Nicolas Cage performance. You don’t want a restrained Nic Cage. You want the crazy off the wall version. And this movie certainly delivers that. So if you are somebody who is in to Nicolas Cage idolization or like to make fun of him, you have to watch The Wicker Man. It is a rite of passage.
Rating as a real movie: 3/10
Rating as a bad movie: 8/10