The Wicker Man Preview

A small note prior to this post: Last July we decided to take a look back at the movies that we watched over five years ago and choose a Hall of Fame class, five movies that we thought embodied BMT in some way. Perhaps they were particularly bad, or an example of a specific bad movie trope, whatever, something made them stand out as special in our minds. Since we didn’t do email previews back in 2011 we also decided to provide a preview for the movie. This is the second in a series of five leading up to our yearly awards the Smaddies Baddies. A recap (Hall of Fame speech really) will follow immediate afterwards to explain why the movie was chosen, things we loved about the movie, and things we discovered upon second viewing. Enjoy!

The Wicker Man (2006) – BMeTric: 83.4

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(I feel like the Rating plot is pretty interesting. While the number of votes has been increasing steadily you’d usually expect the rating to increase over time (merely regression to the mean, most people would usually not have a particularly strong opinion about The Wicker Man). But this doesn’t, it has been around 3.6 (incredibly low) for years. Perhaps that is what it means to be a “cult bad movie” though? A movie that people who do have strong opinions about movies purposefully seek out and give a 1 on IMDb to. It wouldn’t be surprising honestly. Note that Old Dogs, which is not a cult bad movie, is rated much higher and probably does have a bit of regression to the mean happening, so it is plausible. The BMeTric is also impressively high.)

Leonard Maltin – 1.5 stars – Cop travels to an isolated island after receiving word from his ex that her child has disappeared and finds the place populated by a quietly tyrannical cult of women. Interesting (if misogynistic) reimagining of the 1973 film’s concept is poorly executed: a mysterious, building dread has been replaced with the obvious presence of evil that the hero is too dumb to figure out. Cage is sometimes hilariously hammy; only Burstyn, chillingly warm and civilized as the cult’s leader, emerges unscathed. LaBute adapted Anthony Shaffer’s original screenplay.

(Cage is sometimes hilariously hammy? Uhhhhh… watch the film again Leonard. Should just be called Hilariously Hammy Cage.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G8tHgGncPA0

(They don’t make them like they used to. They actually did a pretty good job of putting together even the most hilarious parts of the film into a competent trailer. Unfortunately they still made it look like a Y2K era horror film. In other words, not good.)

Directors – Neil LaBute – (Known For: Death at a Funeral; Lakeview Terrace; The Shape of Things; Possession; Some Velvet Morning; Nurse Betty; In the Company of Men; Your Friends & Neighbors; Stars in Shorts; BMT: The Wicker Man; Dirty Weekend; Notes:  Nominated for the Razzie Award in 2007 for Worst Screenplay for The Wicker Man, and Anthony Shaffer. Accomplished playwright as well. Created, directed, and wrote a TV series last year called Billy & Billie… maybe I should check it out.)

Writers – Neil LaBute (screenplay) (as Neil Labute) – (Known For: The Shape of Things; Some Girl(s); Possession; Some Velvet Morning; In the Company of Men; Your Friends & Neighbors; Stars in Shorts; BMT: The Wicker Man; Dirty Weekend; Notes:  Nominated for the Razzie Award in 2007 for Worst Screenplay for The Wicker Man, and Anthony Shaffer. My favorite part of his IMDb bio that it opens with, “Acclaimed and highly discussed filmmaker Neil LaBute[…]” Heh, highly discussed.)

Anthony Shaffer (1973 screenplay) – (Known For: Death on the Nile; The Wicker Man; Sommersby; Evil Under the Sun; Frenzy; Sleuth; BMT: The Wicker Man; Sleuth; Notes: Writer of the original. Died in 2001 at age 75 from a heart attack. Identical twin brother (what, what!) of Peter Schaffer, who wrote the play and film adaptations for Amadeus.)

Actors – Nicolas Cage – (Known For: Snowden; The Family Man; Fast Times at Ridgemont High; The Croods; Dog Eat Dog; Kick-Ass; National Treasure; The Rock; The Trust; Con Air; The Sorcerer’s Apprentice; Face/Off; Grindhouse; Lord of War; Drive Angry; Moonstruck; Leaving Las Vegas; Matchstick Men; Adaptation.; Raising Arizona; The Frozen Ground; Wild at Heart; Joe; City of Angels; Rumble Fish; Peggy Sue Got Married; Valley Girl; Bringing Out the Dead; Astro Boy; Snake Eyes; The Weather Man; World Trade Center; Bad Lieutenant; Birdy; The Cotton Club; Vampire’s Kiss; BMT: The Wicker Man; Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance; Left Behind; Ghost Rider; G-Force; Tokarev; Season of the Witch; Outcast; Trespass; Dying of the Light; Bangkok Dangerous; Stolen; Pay the Ghost; Wings of the Apache; The Runner; Zandalee; Deadfall; Amos & Andrew; Captain Corelli’s Mandolin; Windtalkers; Knowing; Next; Army of One; Trapped in Paradise; Justice; USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage; Sonny; Gone in Sixty Seconds; National Treasure: Book of Secrets; 8MM; Notes:  Nominated for the Razzie Award in 2015 for Worst Actor for Left Behind, in 2013 for Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, and Seeking Justice, in 2012 for Worst Actor for Drive Angry, Season of the Witch, and Trespass, in 2008 for Ghost Rider, National Treasure: Book of Secrets, and Next, and in 2007 for The Wicker Man; Nominated for the Razzie Award in 2012 for Worst Screen Couple for Drive Angry, Season of the Witch, and Trespass, and in 2007 for The Wicker Man. How doesn’t he win one of those awards? Whatever. Not much more needed to say about our main man Nic Cage. Apparently up to play Reagan in an upcoming film. I say do it, bro. Do it.)

Ellen Burstyn – (Known For: Interstellar; Requiem for a Dream; The Age of Adaline; The Exorcist; Red Dragon; The Fountain; Wiener-Dog; Draft Day; Omoide no Mânî; When a Man Loves a Woman; W.; The Last Picture Show; The Calling; Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore; The Baby-Sitters Club; How to Make an American Quilt; Playing by Heart; The Yards; Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood; Lovely, Still; Another Happy Day; Same Time, Next Year; BMT: The Wicker Man; Main Street; Dying Young; Notes: Nominated for six Oscars, winning one for Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore. Is the reason why Emmy nominations require an actor to appear in at least 5% of a project to be eligible after she was nominated for appearing in a TV Movie Mrs. Harris for a grand total of 14 seconds due to name recognition.)

Leelee Sobieski – (Known For: Eyes Wide Shut; Public Enemies; Deep Impact; Never Been Kissed; Roadkill; Max; My First Mister; Walk All Over Me; A Soldier’s Daughter Never Cries; BMT: The Wicker Man; In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale; Jungle 2 Jungle; Branded; Here on Earth; 88 Minutes; The Glass House; Notes:  Nominated for the Razzie Award in 2009 for Worst Supporting Actress for 88 Minutes, and In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale. From what I understand she’s essentially retired from acting to raise her children and has no intention of returning. Noooooooooooooooooooo!)

Budget/Gross – $40 million / Domestic: $23,649,127 (Worldwide: $38,755,073)

(That is rough. But perhaps this was all part of the brilliant black comedy homage to the original, which also didn’t fair well in the theaters. Yeah, that’s the ticket. People only think it did poorly at the box office. In reality LaBute and Cage are geniuses that purposefully made sure it failed to properly honor the original.)

#40 for the Horror Remake genre

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(Right at the peak, classic BMT. It is kind of amazing, you can see that they made a few (probably the good ones) and that kicked off the 2005-2010 gold rush. I’m surprised the genre collapsed considering it pulled in decent cash ($12K per theater for 2000 theater is $24 million, more than enough considering horror films tend towards low budget). My guess? They ran out of remakes to make. Maybe in like 20 years it’ll change again when the remake to The Conjuring and Annabelle are thrown out there.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 15% (16/106): Puzzlingly misguided, Neil LaBute’s update The Wicker Man struggles against unintentional comedy and fails.

(This matches my perception of the film, which is that if you replace Nic Cage with Patrick Wilson, or someone equally white and innocuous, you have a reasonably creepy film that is forgotten at this point. The only thing actually puzzling about The Wicker Man is Nic Cage single handedly tearing it apart.)

Poster – The Wicker Sklog (B+)

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(I’m actually feeling this poster. I don’t love how prominent the picture of the little girl is on the poster, but everything else is well done and artistic.)

Tagline(s) – Some Sacrifices Must Be Made (B)

(Oh ho ho ho… get it? Sacrifices!… He’s being sacrificed in a giant wicker man. Nailed it! This is actually pretty clever, but doesn’t really take enough from the plot to get my full-throated support. The more I think about it, the more I don’t like it, so I better just go ahead and grade it.)

Keyword(s) – feminism; Top Ten by BMeTric: 83.4 The Wicker Man (2006); 52.5 Ghostbusters (2016); 44.7 Le divorce (2003); 43.1 The Brain That Wouldn’t Die (1962); 43.0 In the Cut (2003); 37.9 The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement (2004); 34.8 G.I. Jane (1997); 29.3 The Single Moms Club (2014); 28.4 The Clan of the Cave Bear (1986); 27.8 Girls Against Boys (2012);

(Ha! Somehow I knew Ghostbusters would make an appearance. That BMeTric is an embarrassment and tells you loads about IMDb and its users, but whatever. We almost watched The Clan of the Cave Bear as a 1986 film adapted from a book, but I didn’t like the idea of reading a historical fiction book that probably had little to do with the eventual movie.)

Notes – There is a “Missing” sign in the police station with a photo of Edward Woodward’s character from The Wicker Man (1973). (Super fun fact!)

Robin Hardy, a writer and the director of the original film, and Christopher Lee, who played Summerisle in the original film, were both critical of the remake. Hardy had his name removed from the film’s credits as he did not wish to be associated with it.

Not screened for critics. (I did wonder whether they knew just how bad it was when they released it. These two notes answer that question.)

The film is dedicated to late musician Johnny Ramone, who introduced Nicolas Cage to Robin Hardy’s original The Wicker Man (1973). (These notes are insane)

Nicolas Cage objected to the criticism that the film was unintentionally funny, saying that he and Neil LaBute knowingly made the picture an absurdist black comedy and that it should have been seen and judged as such. (I do not believe this, mostly because it’s all well and good to make an intentionally bad film for laughs, but I doubt LaBute would use a remake of the cult classic The Wicker Man to do that.)

Awards – Nominated for the Razzie Award for Worst Picture

Nominated for the Razzie Award for Worst Actor (Nicolas Cage)

Nominated for the Razzie Award for Worst Screen Couple (Nicolas Cage)

Nominated for the Razzie Award for Worst Remake or Rip-Off

Nominated for the Razzie Award for Worst Screenplay (Neil LaBute, Anthony Shaffer)

(Oddly underappreciated at the time by the Razzies. Lost every category to either Basic Instinct 2 or Little Man. While that isn’t totally ridiculous, The Wicker Man is clearly now the most celebrated film of the three)

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