Today’s movie is a horror classic: The Wicker Man. I say horror, but it doesn’t have jump scares, blood, or even suspense. If you are scared of naked Swedish bums though, I do recommend staying away from it. (Apparently Rod Stewart tried to get this movie band because his then girlfriend appeared nude in it.) It’s been called the most Hammer like film of non-Hammer films, and it does feel like it belongs in the pantheon. And not just because of Christopher Lee, who appeared in the movie for free and paid out of his own pocket to promote it.
Nahid had never heard of this movie (nor the remake, thankfully) so she went into it tabula rasa.
What did you think?
Nahid. It was bizarre and a bit confusing. It felt a bit too christian. I don’t consider it a horror movie, maybe a mystery or thriller. It’s a bit like Shadows over Innsmouth, or Agathie Christie’s “And Then There Were None” which actually I found more frightening. It was a bit awkward to see Christopher Lee with dark hair and no beard.
What was your favorite part?
Nahid. The cool costumes; the image of the town. The rituals were interesting.
What was your least favorite part?
Nahid. I didn’t like how uptight and Christian Howie was. I didn’t like the demonization of the villagers. Overall, while it was a cool final reveal, the plot doesn’t really work. For one thing, the office would know that a policeman disappeared. And how would the villagers know he would come alone? Why did the girl try to seduce him if his virginity was important? What was the point of the cave part? Just go straight to the Wicker Man? Other stuff like this.
Also, Howie never once mentioned science.
Do you think you’d watch this again?
Nahid. I’m not sure, maybe if I’m having a pagan movie marathon, but probably not.
My thoughts. I appreciate a lot of the elements of this movie, and it really should be for me, but I don’t think it works. The musical elements warp the tone, the plot really doesn’t hold together (you have to have a willing sacrifice, but you can trick and drag him to it?) plus a hundred more but this movie isn’t about having a plot that holds up, it’s about atmosphere.
However, Howie the cop is too unsympathetic a protagonist, bleating on about Christ and the Queen. He’s less an antihero and more the antagonist. I’d rather have seen him sacrificed in the first 5 minutes and then more about the cool and interesting cult. I kind of hate the anti-hippy message of the flick too.
This is the third time I’ve watched this. Maybe it will grow on me. But for now, it’s not one of my favorites.
Here’s the trailer, if you haven’t yet seen this movie.