"That's a nice-a donut."

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

The Wicker Man (1973)

The Wicker Man could have been a very good character study or action drama about a unique religious group (a la Peter Weir's excellent Witness). In fact, several of the basic plot elements are quite similar between the two films. The premise is fascinating: a detective, Sergeant Howie (Edward Woodward), is investigating the disappearance of a young woman named Rowan from a remote Scottish island, but encounters resistance from the locals, many of whom even deny her existence (including the girl's supposed mother).

But I said it could have been very good. Instead there is very little in the way of suspense, or even any interesting drama. I quickly realized that I didn't care whether or not Howie found the girl, or even why the townsfolk would be so unhelpful and deny knowing the girl, or why they would be acting so strangely in general. And they do act strange, tha's for sure. And I don't mean "strange" like they don't have phones or they like to raise barns and drink lemonade. I mean things like the ladies dancing naked around outside, and the group even tends to break out in song on occasion. In fact, the movie almost feels like a musical for the first half, but unfortunately they aren't very good or ear-pleasing songs and the soundtrack as a whole is pretty weak.

The group is very cult-like, and they refer to their leader as "Lord" Summerisle (a much younger-looking Christopher Lee). Their strange behavior is completely foreign to Howie, who is a Christian, and this certainly doesn't help his investigation in finding the girl. And course it doesn't help his case when one of the town's women (Britt Ekland) tries to seduce him via song in a rather erotic scene, which is by far the film's best.

One very risky move was to not reveal anything on the background of Rowan and how or why Howie came onto her missing case to begin with. I can't say that the move worked though. The movie is further hindered by Woodward's complete lack of charisma and likeability into his character. And the wackiness and absurdity of some of the things the islanders does is just too out there; not in interesting or fun way, but in a boring, dated, and disappointing way. Given all this, I just can't believe that there was enough interest or reasons to remake this story.

The Verdict: C-.


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