1973 was the year of release of the original cult classic, The Wicker Man starring among others, Christopher Lee. Then in 2006 we had the uninspired release of a newer version starring Nicholas Cage. Now some 35+ years after the original release we have a follow up story. Highly anticipated by many fans of the original, the new story tackles some new ground, in new ways, yet with memorable scenes and connections to the original. Unfortunately, while there are moments of awe, I can’t help but believe that most, just like me will conclude with the feelings that the film falls just short.
Imagine a young Christian couple, soon to be married deciding to leave for a mission’s trip to Scotland. Imagine it especially when you see the young woman in the couple, Beth Boothby, played by Brittania Nicol is a popular Christian Music Singer. She and her cowboy boyfriend drive around in limousines, but are willing to give it all up in order to share their Christian faith with ‘the sinners’ of another country who follow their ‘foolish religious beliefs.’ What transpires next was for me first and best illustrated in the movie titled Jesus Fish directed by Titus Jackson, the naivety of many who call themselves Christian. There is a belief that their faith will carry them through all circumstances, all situations, and that the power of prayer can transcend ones on foolish and naïve beliefs. There seems to be a mind block of verses in the bible for many like; ‘it rains on the just and unjust,’ as well as concepts where poor decision making, even by good people, results in one learning and discovering that there are consequences for actions and the reality that sometimes, bad people do things that impacts good people.
There are brief moments where The Wicker Tree presents brilliance. I certainly have to give kudos to the sound editing of this film as well as to some of the visual images presented on screen. There is thought provoking story, in fact, one may even say at times, a brilliant contemplative story but overall the lapses in quality lead to the demise of the film as does the poor overacting. That isn’t to take away from some of the horrifying and thought provoking images we see presented but there just isn’t the consistency the film needs to make it work.
One of the thought provoking concepts of this film will be to see how many respond to the themes related to people of faith, and the strong questions as to the deciding factors on which faith to follow. There is a very brief appearance of Christopher Lee where he answers a question of his son as to how determine which faiths are true and which aren’t. He concludes that a lot depends on where you have grown up and been taught. While there is truth to that answer, with the disparity among many faiths, and certainly responses and comments from Jesus about himself as being; ‘the way to heaven’ or by others with comments like, ‘there is no other name under heaven where one can be saved,’ there are certainly questions thrown into the viability of all religions. The reality that some religions contradict themselves in such stark ways shows that it takes little reasonability and logic to determine they can’t all be correct in the summation of their beliefs. While there may be common points, the totality of differing beliefs offers stark contrasts. We see this in The Wicker Tree with the perspective that there are consequences for naivety within each of the belief systems presented.
There were things I liked about The Wicker Tree, I can’t technically classify the film as it isn’t really horror, or gore, but it is different, thought provoking and eerie. There is far more story than horror, but there is also comedy and music. It has a little bit of everything and there are components that keep the movie entertaining, it just happens to fall short in the end. There are a few special features on the film and the ‘Making Of’ feature is definitely worth watching. There is little benefit of the Blu-ray version outside of the sound quality and some of the varieties of music involved. Viewers will be surprised by the quality of sound including in much of the score music including The London Philharmonic. As to my recommendation on how to view the film, if available for rental you may want to give it a try, you may like it better than me and it would be interesting to hear your thoughts after viewing the movie. I will say, it certainly perked my interest to go back and see the original, for that, there is some value.
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