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Admittedly, you could have taken a 6 inch brush and coloured me sceptical for this one. I am a huge fan of the original Wicker Man (less so of the Nicolas Cage version) and so it was with apprehension and doubt that I ventured into this sequel of sorts. The one saving grace may have been the close involvement of Robin Hardy, the original author and director of the Christopher Lee classic.
Lee was pencilled in to star in this movie but unfortunately health problems excluded him from doing so, his appearance is stripped down to a very incidental flashback scene, yet his name still rides high in the opening credits. This is only the first disappointment that you will experience when it comes to The Wicker Tree.
It is essential to be fair and state that it is far from the worst horror movie you will see this year, as it has a certain amount of redeeming features. The problem is the unfortunate fact that it will always have to stand comparison to the original, a movie which has cemented itself as an indisputable classic.
One of the primary difficulties which The Wicker Tree stumbles to overcome is the overall tone of the movie. It can't seem to decide whether it's a knowing and acerbic in-joke, a serious thriller or a humorous homage to its predecessor. This is one of the main reasons that it fails to have any definite resonance with the viewer, although it doesn't make it difficult to watch. There are some beautifully composed shots of the unforgiving Scottish countryside and a particularly handsome raven, but there's so little going on under the surface that it quickly becomes the equivalent of a rushed meal at a fast food restaurant, complete with the subsequent guilt, nausea and comedown.
The American leads are satisfactory in that all they have to do is play vacuous Evangelist Christians, sent over on a mission to the remote Scottish village. The villagers are played for comic relief rather than any form or actual menace and so the inevitable 'scene' that we're all waiting for the entire movie is played out like a community centre theatrical production of The Wicker Man, only with a slightly bigger budget and more actors.
If you're a Hardy obsessive, by all means give it a shot. If you're unfamiliar with the movie's origins, you'll probably get a few laughs out of it, but that's hardly what one would expect when a story comes from such good original stock. A missed opportunity.
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