Title: Wicker Man
Genre: Drama / Horror
Release Date: 9/1/06
Stars: Nicholas Cage, Ellen Burstyn, Molly Parker, Kate Beahan
Director: Neil LaBute
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Reason for Rating: language, violence, disturbing images, and thematic issues
Runtime: 1 hour 46 minutes
The remake of Anthony Shaffer’s 1973 British cult classic. A policeman, Edward Malus (Nicholas Cage), depressed by the death of a family that he was powerless to stop, gets a letter from his estranged fiance Willow (Kate Beahan), who left him at the altar. In the letter she asks for his help and that her daughter has gone missing under dubious circumstances. He has to go to a private island in upstate Washington where the customs of the isle are bizarre to say the least.
His presence is obviously unwanted and every woman on the island seems bent on sending him in the wrong direction, as well as denying the very existence of the child that he seeks. His long lost, big eyed fiance warns him not to trust anyone or anything he sees and that she is afraid. Clues are abundant, but each leads to another question and the mysterious disappearance quickly looks like a ritualistic conspiracy. The Amazonian make-up of the island and sinister misdirection lead Edward down a spiraling staircase of mystery and danger, which he must solve to save the missing girl.
Nick Cage gives a terrific performance as Edward Malus with his usual quick wit and non-affable approach. Ellen Burstyn is stupendous, while time has not touched her beauty, she is the perfect embodiment of the goddess Summers Isle. Relative newcomer Kate Beahan also does a believable job of seeming scared and unbalanced and I look forward to seeing more from her.
Wicker Man itself however, is not quite as impressive. While a much higher quality re-make, the meat of the film is a little too on the nose. The first hour kept me on the edge of my seat doing the math and putting the puzzle together only to be disappointed by the director spelling it out, as well as a touch too much unintentional comedy. Edward Malus was depressed and haunted by a horrible accident, but that shouldn’t make him stupid and he did things that I can’t believe any cop would do at any time. Imagine this: Crawling into a flooded underground crypt, by yourself, at night, and leaving the pad-lock on the ground next to your gun? At the moment I was handed a crib sheet with all the answers to the film, I lost interest and just waited for the inevitable. A smart screenplay and splendid performances carry this bird that doesn’t have the stamina to make the whole flight. Don’t be dissuaded from seeing this movie as Nick Cage and Ellen Burstyn are worth the price of admission, but don’t look for the ground-breaker unveiled in 1973.
Hit or No Hit: Coach Mike gives this a single.