The Wicker Tree

Director: Robin Hardy

Notable Cast: Graham McTavish, Brittiania Nicol, Henry Garrett, Honeysuckle Weeks, Christopher Lee

Rating: R

Review: The Wicker Tree is not a direct sequel, but a re-imagining of Hardy’s own film The Wicker Man (1973) which is considered a classic amongst cult themed lore. Then Neil LaBute re-made the original in 2006 starring Nic Cage, and became its own cult classic for the “Films That Display How Insane Nicolas Cage Really Is” themed garbage, because it failed everywhere Hardy excelled. Total and absolute trash, but we did get to see Cage repeatedly beat up women to a hilarious extent (not that I approve in any way of man on woman violence, but something about Cage in a bear costume swinging at cult worshiping women gets me every time). Needless to say, no one was screaming for yet another Wicker installment, maybe except those who wanted LaBute’s atrocity erased from their memory. Like Robin Hardy. But, based off Hardy’s own book “Cowboys for Christ,” The Wicker Tree mirrors an identical plot just with different characters and setting, seeming more of a cash in on the same topic Hardy once found success with. Sadly, the saying “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” does not alternatively mean “if it ain’t broke, remake it.” Do yourself a favor and just catch the original if you have any desire to watch The Wicker Tree, and if you’ve already done that, just cut your loses and watch this YouTube video of the best Cage moments found in The Wicker Man remake. It’s never good when I’m wishing for Cage to pop up because at least when he sucks there’s entertainment value.

Singer Beth Boothby (Nicol) and boyfriend Steve (Garrett) are born again Christians looking to spread the good lord’s word to those lacking faith. Their charity work goes international when the two travel to Scotland in hopes of opening some eyes, using Beth’s popularity to attract listeners. After arriving in Scotland, Beth notices the city folk don’t seem to be willing to listen, and decides to try her luck in the countryside. Sir Lachlan Morrison (McTavish) invites both preachers to his quaint little town of Tressock, where the townspeople warmly accept them. But, this seemingly innocent town holds deep, dark secrets Beth unfortunately will find out if she sticks around for the local May Day celebrations, proving much more disturbing than a regular holiday spectacle. Wanting nothing more than to educate a few non-believers about God, Beth and Steve may be reaching out to the wrong lost souls, a decision that may prove deadly…

Can’t help but think this scene would be tenfold better with Cage on that table…

So, OK, Hardy tries to get away this repeat effort by changing the characters from a cop and a missing girl to Christian bible peddlers, and by making something else out of wicker. Otherwise, it’s all the same cult worshipping crazies from the original, mirroring the same boring actions. The Wicker Tree lacked any originality and creativity, moving through the motions at a dreadfully slow pace. I even feel as if Hardy tried to play this off as a dark comedy, but thanks to some of the most ear-splitting hillbilly impressions and lack of witty execution, the jokes die right off the bat. Getting back to those horrid performances though, our two leads couldn’t have been more off-putting. Each were instructed to talk with a southern twang and stereotypical lingo, but not even Colonel Sanders himself could have been as deep-fried as these corn-fed bumpkins. Apparently, all Steve knew how to do was ride a horse, as we were tipped off by his endless mumbling, and Beth was every dixie chick cliché mashed into one overly bubbly and outrageously unwatchable lead. Every time one of these buffoons flapped their jaw it was just an onslaught of “Y’alls” and “Yes Ma’ams,” growing tiresome as the film wore on. Again, where was Cage when you needed him?

Not only that, but the relationship between Beth and Steve was drastically underplayed to the point where I honestly didn’t give a rat’s ass if they stayed together or not. It was only a matter of days before that scumbag Steve was cheating on his girlfriend, he tells her, says he’s leaving her in Scotland, and yet Beth is ready to forgive him in a matter of hours. Not only that, but Steve didn’t even fight the urge one bit. There was no struggle or debate. See pretty girl, mount her. Simple as that. Beth barely even seemed to react, bringing zero climax or fire to the discussion. There was no substance to merit any emotional connection between the two, failing to bring any drama out of the otherwise despicable scenario. Not to mention the affair was an important part of The Wicker Tree, but is left behind in a sad omission of any sort of build up.

To those involved, third time was most certainly not the charm. The only wicker effigies that need to be constructed now a days should only be burned in the event some sap pens a screenplay about a Wicker Car, or Wicker Cage, or Wicker House and the script will be the sacrafice…no more wicker! I know it’s easy to be tempted by past accomplishments, but The Wicker Tree is what happens when ideas stop flowing and bank accounts start getting sparse. Even stranger, the task seems a tad bit egotistical, coming from the exact same director of the original. It’d be like if I took my favorite review, changed one name in the title, and simply copy and pasted new character names into the plot. Then took all the other words and wrote “blah blah blah blah,” leaving nothing but new details and a load of bullshit. The Wicker Tree was genuinely boring, horrendously acted, lacked any build up or suspense, had no laughs, and was rather annoying. Not even the random and explicit sex could break my concentration on Hardy’s rather pathetic cry for attention, or a man getting stabbed in the genitalia. For that one moment, I saw a glimpse of something eye-popping, but the rest of the time, I would have rather been popping my own eyes out on purpose.

Final Rating: 3.5 sliced scrotes 10

There was never a movie I wanted every character to die just to see the ending, until The Wicker Tree…

-Natobomb

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About Matt Donato

I love all things film. I'll watch any genre, any actor, at any time. This whole film critic thing is a passionate hobby for now which I'm balancing with working in the business world, but hey, someday, who knows?
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