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Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The horror?

Only...not. The Wicker Man is the worst remake of a horror film ever created, and may possibly be the worst horror film ever created, period. Don't see it. The only joy you might get from a viewing is seeing Nicolas Cage burned alive at the end, but even that comes merely as relief, after the the hour and 30 minutes of utter nothing which precedes it. I have to admit--really the only reason I saw it was so that I could complain about it. So it goes.

Anyhow, for those not in the know (read: those not as cool as me), The Wicker Man was originally made in Britain in 1973, starred Christopher Lee as its villain, didn't contain Nicolas Cage, and was on the whole a lot more creepy and unique than the 2006 sham of the same name. For the remake, it seems that director Neil LaBute attempted not only to transplant a thoroughly British plotline to the Pacific Northwest, but also to make some sort of political statement, something feministic perhaps, and we all know how well political statements go off. In this case, it's clumsy, half-hearted, confused, and utterly unconvincing, but who's worried about political underpinnings when Nicolas Cage is snoring on the screen? I'm convinced that he was actually sleepwalking through his scenes. Never have I witnessed a more boring actor--not that he had a particularly pithy role to work with, but please. That's what actors do: make dull roles interesting. This simply reaffirms my belief that Nicolas Cage is not an actor or even a human at all, but in fact a wooden plank with a baffled face painted on it.

(And then there was Ellen Burstyn. All I have to say about her is, it must be painful to hold a smirk for an hour and 40 minutes, but she managed it. Well done, Sister Summersisle!)

This is probably the only time I'll ever whine about a movie not having enough sex, but...I am making that complaint. The 1973 film was about sex, pure and simple, and was chock-full of it; weird, cultish, rampant, sun-god-worshipping sex. That's pretty much absent from LaBute's film, and missing along with it is the creepy, perversely merry air with which the villagers go about their lives. That the Scottish pagans believe themselves normal is the ultimate in weird and adds to the atmosphere of twisted malice, whereas the Washington State communals are merely zealous neo-hippie feminazis. LaBute has warped the plot into an almost entirely new film, complete with a disjointed subplot and new ending which make it appear that the islanders have been planning the Wicker Man sacrifice for at least a decade, when it's supposed to be something conceived on the fly because of a 'bad harvest'. Huh?

Not that you can't see it coming (the climax could hardly be more obvious), but the high point is the sacrifice itself--a pretty cool-looking effigy, I will admit--and Nic Cage shrieking while the happy villagers celebrate around the bonfire. However, this isn't enough to recommend the film; if you're into seeing people burnt alive, just get the original.


Stewart Sternberg said...

Thanks. I had trepidation about this film and now I am swearing to avoid it even on DVD.

They...the sterile corporate execs in Hollywood...have to stop this. The remakes are a sign of the apocaplypse. Along with The Wicker Man, here are three more remakes that should make you cry for mercy...

1. Assault on Precinct 13 (At its time this was a tense, shockingly violent film that announced the arrival of John Carpenter, the remake was a formulaic mess, with no surprises)

2. The Fog (Another John Carpenter film. The original gave us John Houseman sitting at a campfire scaring the hell out of a lot of kids. It gave us Adrianne Barbeau. It had a pacing that was perfect for cuddling up next to your date for a scare and a hug.
The new version? An O.C. version of a John Carpenter film.)

3. King Kong (Peter Jackson lost more than weight following Lord of the Rings, he lost his judgement and his sense of perspective. The best thing about this overblown remake is the first fifteen minutes as we see New York in the thirties. Apart from that...nothing to see here folks, move along)

Diana said...

King Kong, I found horrifying. I haven't seen the other two, but then, I try to avoid remakes as a rule. Unless I want to complain about them, which is really why I spent eight bucks on The Wicker Man in the first place. Same for The Omen, which was laughable (and I do scare easy).

The only worthwhile remake I've seen in recent years was The Manchurian Candidate, and it still didn't hold a candle to the original.

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