(2006) dir. Neil LaBute
Why remake certain movies? The original The Wicker Man (1973), directed by Robin Hardy and starring Christopher Lee, is considered to be one of the best British horror films ever made. And it is very much a piece of Britain, really, taking place on a remote Scottish isle, with an English investigator following up on some strange goings-on in what turns out to be a bizarre pagan village, true still to their ancient traditions and sacrifice. It’s a classic.
I’d heard that this new version was awful, and I think that is why I wanted to see it. Nicolas Cage was at one time my favorite actor, probably from about 1983-1993 or so. And around the time he scored his Oscar for Leaving Las Vegas (1995), he started really really really going downhill. He is now a total schmuck.
Directed and written (I think) by Neil LaBute, the narrative moves away from traditional pagan ritual in a place where such culture was historically endemic, and over to the Northwest, outside Washington state, and neo-pagans, and this time…a culture utterly run by women who heavily take an apian metaphor to the hilt, raising bees for honey and creating a hive-like culture in which men are purely “drones”. In fact, men don’t even speak, but are simply used for their “phalluses”. All this would be fine and dandy, I guess, but they also are murderesses and utilize human sacrifice.
There is a strong bent of misogyny here, which calls to mind LaBute’s 1997 breakthrough film which analyzed a similar perspective on women. Empowered women dis-empower men. It’s a threat and it’s frightening, the film tells us. They are evil. It’s a bad, bad thing. And the poor dupe, Cage, is just a lamb for the slaughter.
Outside of being bad, and it’s got some hardcore camp moments, it is frighteningly misogynist. Overdone, overwrought, and ruinous.