Movie Review: The Wicker Man (1973)

Wicker Man BannerThe Wicker Man (1973)

This movie is as old as I am, so don’t expect a spoiler break, as I normally do. I’ll give you a warning tag, however.

The Wicker Man is one of those famous horror movies, and the breakout Christopher Lee role, and no, I will not be seeing the Nicholas Cage remake, that I have been told is universally hated.

Wicker Man Lee and HowieSergeant Neil Howie of the West Highland Police gets a letter from someone about a missing girl named Rowan and asking for help. He arrives at Summerisle, an island in the middle of nowhere. Sgt Howie flies a seaplane out to the island, but the people on the island basically don’t care about getting any help, and Howie pretty much has to threaten to bring every cop in London out before they send a rowboat out to the plane to get him.

This sets the tone for the Wicker Man. Sgt Howie has roadblocks thrown up all around him, from people saying Rowan doesn’t exist to the daughter of the bar/inn owner looking overly hot and distracting. Even Rowan’s mother is no help, saying there is no Rowan.

Let me tell you though, Sgt Howie turning down the daughter is an impressive a feat as anything else in this movie. She just seems like a ball of fire and a ton of fun. Slightly crazy, but totally worth it.

So on first watching, it seems like Sgt Howie is bouncing around the town, trying to find out the truth of the matter, and eventually comes across proof that something is very very wrong here. He goes to the local Lord, and its time for Christopher Lee to go all batshit crazy on camera, as only a proper Englishman can.

So how is the Wicker Man?

Wicker Man DaughterSo it actually took me a few tries to get into this movie, so I’ve seen it through a few times. I did catch a lot of symbolism, a good bit of the background stuff on repeated viewings and backing up. The Christian/Pagan dynamic gets a little SLEDGEHAMMER OF PLOT at times, and you wonder why Sgt Howie didn’t catch it sooner, but that might have been necessary to get him to all the points he has to get too, or he’s just been trained to ignore it at all times, something a bit odd in England, at any time. I guess he would have picked up on them being Catholic faster than them being Pagans. The Wicker Man is DENSE, and to be honest, I don’t think it pays off enough. Its got a good bit of suspense, and it feels like its getting somewhere, but the juice just really isn’t worth the squeeze at the end. Its a satisfying ending, to be sure, but just not enough to get past the previous 5 hours (it feels like)

No I don’t want Sgt Howie to come into the town square just blowing people away like in Hot Fuzz, and I do think the ending fits the movie, and I actually do like the ending, but Wicker Man just seems slow enough to try for suspense, but its just not there. I don’t have a problem with slow movies, but this one never gets out of gear. I can’t go higher than a 3 here, and that’s only due to the innkeeper’s daughter, and the well-crafted ending that fits all the pieces together.

I will say that this movie is stunningly well acted, the innkeeper’s daughter I have spoken of, Christopher Lee is a nutjob, and even Sgt Howie is solid as a stoic police officer and hits all the notes as the conclusion nears.

And no, I will never watch the Nicholas Cage Wicker Man.

Spoilers Shead

Think about this.

If Sgt Howie isn’t a virgin, the movie falls apart. What are the odds of a virgin cop at 40 years old?
If Sgt Howie jumps Britt Ekland, like any other man, the plan fails.
If Sgt Howie gives up on Rowan and leaves the island, thats it for the harvest.

Does anyone else know of the Wicker Man plan but Rowan and Christopher Lee? Doesn’t seem like it.




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