Well I really screwed myself over this time. I promised you all that I would review and analyze The Wicker Man, what many consider to be the worst remake and one of the worst films ever made.
Even the poster doesn’t really make sense. Why is Nicolas Cage’s face split in half like that? Why do I care enough to ask that question?
I previously had a lot of fun analyzing another awful film, Tommy Wiseau’s The Room. But that was very different. The Room had an academic type of failure to it. Every choice made was the complete opposite of what should have been done. You could tell what Wiseau wanted to do with pretty much everything in that movie, from the overall plot to the individual characters, it’s just that he screwed them up incredibly severely.
But The Wicker Man? This movie is just…nonsense. I can’t analyze the characters because there’s nothing to analyze. Nicolas Cage is a mentally ravaged chameleon, perfectly capable of mirroring whatever form of insanity is closest by him. None of the decisions in this film have any kind of semblance in the basest forms of logic.
When your climax has Nicolas Cage wearing a bear suit to investigate a bee-worshipping cult of misandronists, you’ve made many mistakes.
What is The Wicker Man? Basically Nicolas Cage is a police officer. (His character’s name is Edward, but I’m just going to call him Nicolas Cage.) His ex-fiance Willow lives on a very isolated island filled with man-hating cultists and asks him for help when her daughter Rowan has gone missing. So Nicolas goes to the island to solve the island’s mysteries and find Rowan.
I have no idea how to get through this post except to watch the entire movie, stopping whenever I find something worth commenting on. Also, I promise, as hard as it is to believe, that everything in quotes was actually said in this film.
MY RECAP / REVIEW / ANALYSIS / SELF-INFLICTED TORTURE
Okay, so we open up with a small-town diner, and right away we’re treated to this film’s memorable dialogue.
“Sorry, my mind was wandering.”
Oh for the love of…
Okay, so the writers of this movie have wisely let us know what we’re getting into right off the bat. At least they respect their audience enough to let them make an informed decision on whether they want to sit through the rest of this.
Immediately after this, we meet our protagonist, who is browsing the diner’s array of books and sunglasses.
Because all restaurants have these things.
We get a few seconds of Nicolas Cage rifling through a display of self-help books.
It’s funny and clever because things won’t be okay soon!
We’re then treated to a minute of Nicolas Cage riding down the highway, doing policeman-y things. When a teddy bear flies out of the car in front of him, he suavely leans over, grabs it, and pulls over the car so he can return it to the little girl who threw it out her window.
The mom apologizes for her bratty daughter, and this twerp has the nerve to say:
“Did you get my doll?”
Nic gives it back. Then, I shit you not, this little bitch throws it right back out the window.
Who the fuck do you think you are?
So Nic goes to grab the doll again, then this happens.
Because obviously trucks just barrel down the wrong side of the road in broad daylight all the time.
The vehicle catches on fire, Nic tries to save the passengers as the girl just glares at him for having the gall to help her, then it explodes. Even though Nic is right up against the car, the ensuing fireball leaves him with only a mild headache.
His entire face should be gone.
So endeth the first five minutes of this film. We already have a bland protagonist, non-sensical dialogue, and several major logical flaws.
Nothing happens for the next ten minutes.
It’s some of the most boring stuff I’ve ever seen on film. Nic mopes around, he finds out that his ex-fiance’s daughter is missing, then decides to go find her. Things don’t pick up until he goes to Summer’s Isle, the island where his ex-fiance Willow lives, and one of the dumbest and strangest scenes from any film ever happens.
Nic climbs up the path and meets a group of women. He explains that he’s a police officer investigating a missing girl, and we’re treated to more great dialogue such as:
Woman: “A complaint you say?”
Nic: “Yes ma’am, about a missing child.”
Woman: “Well now, that’s always trouble.”
Nic: “Yep, for everybody.”
Seriously, who talks like that? I understand that these women are evil cultists and Nic Cage has to have some sort of mental trouble or lasting concussion from that head blow, but who would use those words?
Ugh, that would be bad enough, but it’s what happens next that just shoves this movie deep into the gutter. Nicolas Cage is on this island searching for a missing child. Two people walk past with a child-sized struggling bulge in a sack. How does Nic choose to investigate this?
“What’s in the bag? A shark or something?”
I have no idea why his first thought is a shark, but whatever. Nick notes that the bag is dripping blood, then the woman tells him to open it. Whatever’s inside it kicks at him (much like a struggling child would!). The women laugh, then Nick angrily walks away.
Do I need to explain what’s wrong there? In case you have half the brain damage that Nic has, let me clarify that if you’re searching for a missing child, you might want to investigate the bleeding child-sized bag that is struggling to get away from insane women.
Now I know that Nic hasn’t exactly gotten a warm welcome on the island so far, but he is still on their turf and knows he’ll need help to find this missing child. He could at least try to put rest of the local populace at ease. Instead, he goes into the island’s tavern and lays on the classic Cage charm to Sister Beech.
“Are you the barmaiden here or whatever you call it?”
More delightful dialogue follows.
Nic: “I’d just like a room and a meal. Can you swing it?”
Sister Beech: “Swing what? Is that some kind of city talk?”
Sister Beech is one of the best worst things I’ve ever seen.
Nic’s not far behind.
“I think you all should know that I’m here on business. This is official police business.”
This whole scene is a complete fucking trainwreck. This is first draft writing mixed with elementary-school play acting.
Beech: “Official California business is it? Because this is Washington.”
Nic: “I’m aware of that.”
Beech: “Then fine.”
What the frick does “Then fine,” mean? How is that a logical response?
You can cut the sexual tension in this scene with a knife.
Okay I’m done with this scene.
So moving on. Nic finally has a long conversation with Willow, who is the first person in this movie who can act without her face trying to fly off in two separate directions. Not that her lines are much better.
“Why do we do anything in this life?”
This scene just drags on and tries to make you care about these characters, but at this point it’s impossible to bring this movie back. l will say this, Nic manages to at least act human for three minutes.
For the most part.
So that night we meet another new character, Sister Honey.
The characters themselves may not make any sense, but at least the writers gave them each unique, meaningful names.
Of course, no introduction of a new character would be complete without more Oscar-worthy dialogue.
Nic: “I’m missing some tapes.”
Sister Honey: “I wouldn’t know anything about that.”
Nic: “They’re called Everything’s Okay.”
Sister Honey: “Good.”
Soon we’re treated to a riveting scene where Nic and Sister Honey discuss the island’s recent bee troubles and subsequent sub-par honey production.
“We don’t have any royal honey for you.”
“None at all?”
Disgusted at having to use sugar to sweeten his cereal, Cage gets back to detective work. By that I mean he looks at the wall directly in front of him and finds it full of creepy pictures.
One is missing!
So the next scene is literally complete nonsense. Nic and Sister Honey calmly argue over the difference of the phrases “The day of tomorrow,” “the day after tomorrow,” and “tomorrow.”
I don’t know how to begin to sum up this exchange. Just watch it yourself.
We continue the trend of Nic walking around the island doing whatever he wants by him heading into an all-girls school. It is one of the most awkward scenes in history.
One of the opening lines is the girls chanting, “Phallic symbol, phallic symbol, phallic symbol.”
Again, to be fair, at least this scene gets across that the island is firmly anti-men. It’s been hinted at before, but now it’s clear that these girls are being indoctrinated to be misandronists.
So the teacher explains that Willow is freaking nuts and Rowan actually burnt to death in an accident. Nicolas goes to Willow’s grave and investigates.
Yes, this is dirt.
When Willow joins Nic, we get more of this movie’s soul-shattering dialogue that still yanks me from my dreams at night and causes me to weep at its beauty.
Willow: “That’s not Rowan’s grave.”
I hate to admit it, but I always strive to be fair. The next scene is pretty good. Nic and Willow discuss how crazy all of this is, and Willow tells him that she is telling the truth. It’s the only completely decent stretch of the film; you actually get a sense of Nic’s tired disbelief mixed with the urge to believe Rowan is still alive. When Willow protests that someone is going to hurt or kill Rowan, Nick gives a really touching line reading.
“Why would they? I’m trying to understand, I am. But why?”
This is also when Nic realizes that Rowan is his daughter. The scene goes on too long and the movie certainly has lost the chance to be good, but for a few brief moments you think it might continue this sincere attempt to redeem itself. Then we take a U-turn back to Shitville.
Willow takes Nic back to Rowan’s bedroom. Nic uses his super-detective powers to look under Rowan’s desk.
I may be going out on a limb here, but something doesn’t seem quite right on Summer’s Isle.
After finally asking some basic details about Rowan’s disappearance, Nicolas suddenly decides to head to the docks and use an approaching airplane’s radio to call for help.
I think most people would have called for back-up about the time they heard little girls creepily chanting “Phallic symbol,” but whatever, live your own life, Cage.
What follows is the greatest thing in the world. Nick waits for the pilot to come back and falls asleep. He has a nightmare where he sees Rowan under the water and leaps into action.
And I do mean leaps.
Really look at that. I’ve seen this a hundred times and I still don’t know how it’s physically possible. This is the Cage-iest thing that has ever happened. Look at the way he kind of stumbles as he nears the end of the dock. Watch how he propels himself forward but somehow twists his legs up above his head by the end of the dive. This is marvelous.
Anyway Nick eventually awakens and swims to the airplane. Of course, the radio has been ripped out.
I’ve seen this movie like 4 times and I still have no idea how this happened. Nicolas saw the plane land and ran down to it. Did the women swim to the plane, attack the pilot, hide the body, rip out the radio, and vanish without a trace in the few minutes it took Cage to dash over?
More boring stuff and awful dialogue ahead. Nic interrogates the island’s doctor / photographer.
Nic: “I need to ask a couple questions. It’s quick.”
Doctor: “Things are rarely quick.”
Eh. Nic asks about the missing photo from earlier. The doctor is surprisingly helpful, but Nic still needs more. He spots a book on the island’s pagan rituals. After leaving the doctor’s house, he waits for her to exit and then sneaks back into her home to read the tome.
The elusive Cage in his natural habitat. He also does a really weird wink in this scene that happens too fast for me to capture in a screenshot.
While reading through this book, Nicolas discovers that these pagan rituals often involve burning their victims. Wait a minute, that’s how they said Rowan died! As Nick investigates the house further, he uncovers the missing picture from the tavern and discovers that last year Rowan was the girl involved in last year’s harvest festival. Last year also had the worst harvest on record.
Nic meets up with Willow one more time, and they discuss how the women on the island must blame Rowan for the poor harvest and probably did something to her in revenge.
Then we get more of Nic roaming around the island looking for any type of clue, but this time he’s on a bicycle!
It’s hard to get across in a picture, but Nicolas Cage is the funniest cyclist in the world.
He rides across a field and comes across a few bees. He runs away, and the camera pans out to reveal that, completely nonsensically, he managed to end up in the middle of all the island’s beehives without noticing.
By the way, Nicolas is allergic to bees. So no need to be a little extra cautious when traveling around this island known for making honey.
He nearly dies, but after being revived he finally meets with the island’s leader, Sister SummersIsle (that’s not a typo, it’s really how she spells her name). Nothing important happens. Skip this scene.
“My Celtic ancestors all the way back rebelled against the suppression of the feminine, so in the late 17th century they…”
There is a full minute of the longest and most boring history lesson ever.
So eventually this dullness ends and the movie hits a turning point.
Please listen to me and take me seriously here.
Up until now, the movie has mostly been a string of strange decisions punctuated by idiotic dialogue. After this, though, there is no semblance of logic. Everything about the final half hour in this film is completely insane. Brace yourselves, shit’s about to go crazy.
First Nicolas exhumes Rowan’s grave to find a burnt doll, leading to one of the film’s most famous moments.
I don’t know, fire? Isn’t the bigger issue finding only a doll in a child’s grave, not the status of the doll?
Then Nic returns to Sister SummersIsle’s house to find this:
Well, we’re all entitled to our personal tastes.
Okay never mind, this place is fucked up.
Having lost his precious bike and running out of time, Nicolas Cage takes drastic measures.
“Step away from the bike!”
Believing that Rowan is still alive and going to be sacrificed, he runs and bikes across the entire the island to find her, unmasking every girl he sees.
“Hey, take those masks off! Come here!”
Eventually he makes his way back to the tavern for the confrontation we all knew was coming: Nicolas Cage vs. Sister Beech. It is everything you could hope for.
Nic steps into Sister Beech’s bear costume to infiltrate the festival where Rowan will be sacrificed. We then get a second peek at Nic’s complete non-hesitance to kick female ass.
It all leads up to the best scene in the history of the world.
Nicolas Cage, in full on bear suit, infiltrates the festival and locks eyes with Willow. He whispers his plan to her, and I can’t begin to express how amusing I find her utter disbelief at what she is seeing.
Then, after 85 minutes of waiting, it finally happens. If you have heard anything about this film, you know what comes next. In the greatest cinematic moment of my lifetime, Nicolas Cage runs across a field and punches a woman while wearing a bear suit.
You might not think this could be improved in any way, but I’d argue the nod he gives Willow before doing this combined with her horror makes it even better.
So Nicolas tries to save Rowan, but it turns out it’s all a trap. The cultists wanted to bring Nic to the island so they could sacrifice him. Rowan and Willow were in on it the entire time. As they move in to torture and kill him, Nicolas tries one last time to reason with them.
“Killing me won’t bring back your godd*mn honey!”
But it’s all for nothing. They break his legs and burn him alive, but not before torturing him with a helmet full of bees.
“Ah no not the bees! Not the bees! Ah no my eyes, my eyes!”
And then it’s done.
I have no idea how to even begin to sum up the insanity that is The Wicker Man. At least with The Room it makes sense how the movie came out so horrible; it was solely paid for by a madman. But this? This had actual studio backing and executives watching it. How could anything go this wrong?
The Wicker Man cannot be rated on any logical scale. It must simply be seen to truly be believed.
The Wicker Man gets 10 / 10 Cages – Utterly Insane