Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Wicker Man

These are a couple of a handful of reviews I mean to add here in the next few days/weeks as I'm starting to consume a fair amount of new films now.

My background with "The Wickerman" is this. I know a fella on some message boards who goes by that screen-name for one, but if I'm not mistaken, he takes it from the song that Iron Maiden wrote. Perhaps the song itself was inspired/named-after the movie or story.

The band Agalloch released an EP earlier this year titled "The White" which takes samples from it. Very folky, dreamy, acoustic. It's really a moving album in fact, and it certainly always made me curious of the source of the samples until I found out they were taken from that 1974 picture, which honestly, reminded of something taken from The Twilight Zone or perhaps The Outer Limits. Even Mysterious Island..when the sample referred to an island, pagans, and a heathen.

Well I happen to be a pretty big fan of Christopher Lee. Mainly a nostalgia and lover of the british "Hammer Series" Dracula pictures. Many others, along with Peter Cushing. He always commands a presence on screen.

Cutting to the chase. I finally saw the 1974 supposed *Horror Classic* which I rented for Halloween. The best things I can say about it is, I liked it more than the remake (not surprisingly), the performances were good from Lee, Edward Woodward (who may be best known for playing the lead role in the 80's crime-drama "The Equalizer"), Ingrid Pitt, and Britt Ekland who among many of the female cast, is hardly shy for the camera (hehe).

The biggest criticism I have are about it is

a) What was up with ALL THE MUSIC? I felt like I was watching a Ken Russell film at times, lol. I mean I guess part of the intent of the director was to make it creepy, in a subtle, lack-of-a-sense-of-reality sort-of-way. I guess. But I'm sure I'm not the only one who kind of got lost watching girls sing while naked over bonfires. And at the same time, I think Woodward's meltdown at them also added to it's lack of suspense.

b) I wished they'd shown more background on how Sgt Howie or whoever on the mainland got word of the girl's disappearance in the 1st place. I suppose it's not something they care about, but logically, it doesn't make a ton of sense for them to call the cops to search for a girl in an entirely different portion of land. I mean, part of it is the society there, but my 1st reaction if I were receiving the notice would be to ask if they have any authorities on the island 1st and foremost for that sort of thing. But that would defeat the purpose of the whole story of course.

I also didn't love how un-poetic the ending was. Had I written it, I'd have had Woodward escape out of the Wicker Man and somehow caused Christopher Lee's "Lord Summerisle" to die either at the hands of the Wicker Man or just from shear shock. It definitely is a film that didn't include the most complete resolution. At the same time, Lee has claimed it's his best or favorite performance of his career (or it was the best film he was ever in, I forget exactly what the bio info said on the DVD)


Now the remake from '06 at least did give more background on the girl and the fact Nicholas Cage as the cop, comes over to see an old flame and learn it's his own daughter who became missing.

They did try to make it more suspenseful or horror-movie-like. Maybe the best or most creepy thing they had were these two twin ladies who really could have been the much older versions of the two creepy girls that are flashed so freakishly in Kubrick's "The Shining." I genuinely felt creeped out watching them; although the fact it was in daylight didn't help.

The other real head-scratcher that the filmmaker Neil LaBute put in this adaptation was this scene at the beginning with Cage on the highway stopping this lady and her daughter; which eventually leads to a Semi hitting them and Cage attempting but failing to save both the girl or the mother. They kept flashing back to it, which I thought could have worked well, but their never really was any explanation about the significance of it. Was that supposed to be his daughter, Rowan Woodward? (last name I imagine used a cameo sort-of to Edward from the original) Was the fire supposed to be a foreshadow for things to come? It really ended up just being a random event that gives you only your imagination as to what the point of that scene was.

The love story I guess added something, but I would agree with a lot of the comments and reviews online about it. Cage did a good enough job, it's just the material was so predictable and trying to be creepy just for the sake of it, that it didn't add much or have the out-of-left-field approach that the original at least did. At the same time, I probably wouldn't go as far as to think it's the worst movie this decade or anything. Some reviews totally panned it, and I guess for me, it was watchable at least, especially for someone who hadn't seen the original (although of course I would recommend seeing that one as well).


No comments :