The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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Morgan Shiver, Contributor • June 20, 2024
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Nicolas Cage and “The Wicker Man” fail to ignite

In keeping with the Hollywood machine’s need to fill theaters with unoriginality, another remake has hit the theaters this month. It’s Neil LaBute’s retelling of the 1973 classic cult film “The Wicker Man” starring horror master Christopher Lee and Edward Woodward.

This version, written and directed by LaBute (“Nurse Betty”) is a poor and over-eager attempt at jumping into more mainstream horror for the director. He really tries to make it an interesting and intelligent commentary on the battle of the sexes as well, but is literally burned at the stake by a sloppy execution and a match held by star Nicholas Cage (“World Trade Center”).

The original, while campy with its 70s musical numbers and sexual orgies, set a great tone. It successfully delved into a commentary on religion that was very horrifying at times. It was apparent from the first scene of the new version that Hollywood has two solutions to remaking a film that wasn’t really a horror movie: 1) add cheap scares at certain intervals and 2) tack on an ending that leaves you guessing about whether or not it will turn into a franchise – the quick answer to that is NO.

LaBute relocates the story to some islands off the coast of Washington state, that mirror the Scottish Isle location of the original. Nicholas Cage plays Edward Malus, a California highway patrolman. He takes some time off from duty when he becomes mentally scarred due to a traumatic car crash which he witnesses while on duty.

He receives a letter from a former love interest, Willow (Kate Beahan), claiming that her daughter Rowan has disappeared. She urges him to come to Summers Isle, where she lives, to help solve the case. Without more than a moment of thought, he hops on a plane and goes off on his crusade to find the missing girl.

Upon arriving to the island, which he finds out is a strange matriarchal commune overseen by demented Sister Summersisle (Ellen Burstyn, “Requiem for a Dream”), he seeks out Willow and begins to investigate the disappearance of the child. To his dismay and frustration, no one will admit to knowing Rowan or that she has ever existed on the island. The Quixotic Cage quickly finds that things are more bizarre than he thought when he discovers that beneath the surface there is a dark secret of pagan ritualism. He must race to find Rowan before the coming Harvest Festival or it could be too late.

Now, there’s no need to spoil anything else for those of you who haven’t seen the original and still want to go and see the newest version. The twist is definitely a fun one that you never see coming, but the film falls apart before it even reaches the climax.

Cage’s character never helps to establish the tone to let the audience know if they should take his character seriously or to laugh. Unfortunately, the latter happened more often. Audience members were laughing out loud when towards the end, he decks a woman, karate kicks Leelee Sobieski into a wall, then decks another woman while wearing a bear suit.

To Neil LaBute’s credit, however, he had a great mood composer working in his favor, Angelo Badalementi. He has furnished some creepy scores for the likes of director David Lynch. Composers’ efforts never seem to be able to save a film from being a Razzie candidate, but at least they can ease the pain a little.

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