Today, I’m going to be doing a request of sorts. Not that it has been requested, but I know one person in particular has just seen this movie and we share a mutual love of the main actor. It is a film that is a remake (after a fashion) of one of my favourite horror films – and yes, I will be reviewing it at some point as well; it is a film that took the internet by storm a few years back and is far, far better appreciated as a broad comedy rather than a horror film. Today’s movie is Neil LaBute’s remake of The Wicker Man.
Based, as I said, upon the 1973 original, The Wicker Man follows policeman Edward Malus (Nicolas Cage playing a Cop On The Edge – or, just Nicolas Cage in a police uniform) as he follows the trail of the disappearance of his ex-fiancé’s daughter. The trail leads him to the female-centric island community of Summer’s Isle, a community which seems to be harbouring a seriously large secret. As he gets drawn further into the mysteries, not only of Roawn’s disappearance, but of just what the community has to do with it, he gets met by nothing but resistance. Desperate to reach the bottom of just what is going on, Edward finds himself being driven mad by a world he isn’t supposed to know. I won’t spoil the ending, but anyone who has spent more than an hour on the internet over the past 5 years knows it – as does anyone who has seen the original. Needless to say, it’s hilariously brilliant.
Now, like I said, the first thing you have to do is NOT take this film as a horror. Yes, it is based on an iconic horror film, and it is pretty horrific when you think of it – but when you have Nic Cage at his intensely overacting best, there is no way you can’t laugh. I know that was not the intent of the film as it was made, but, much like The Room – The Wicker Man seems to have found new life as a black comedy (but, in this case, I think it is more unknowing than the Wiseau masterpiece). And really, when you have great, now iconic scenes like “how’ditgetburned?” and Nic Cage in a bear suit punching women – how can you not take it as a comedic retelling? Plus, you get the aforementioned Mr Cage doing what he does best; a slow burn to sheer, unhinged madness.
I’ve found that Cage’s madness is always best when he has someone willing to have him bounce off them (see Travolta in Face/Off – matching Cage for madness every step of the way), and in this, we have two people willing to step up to the plate - the criminally underrated Ellen Burstyn, playing Sister Summersisle (a gender swap of the role originally played with great relish by Christopher Lee) and Diane Delano as Sister Thorn, proprietor of the community’s meeting place. It’s not just them (rather, they are the two main antagonists, such as the word may be used in this situation), though, as every woman Cage gets to interact with bring their A game.
One thing, not focusing on the comedy of it all, is how beautifully haunting the film looks. I have always been a big fan of the geographical look of the Pacific Northwest, and this film has it in droves (being both set and shot there, US side and Canadian side respectively), with just about every shot highlighting the beauty of the area. To me, it is one of the most breathtaking places on Earth, and Neil LaBute and his cinematographer, Paul Sarossy know how to shoot a scene.
This is a film, like I said that you have to take not for what it is, but for what it has become. And if you are able to take it that way, you will enjoy the hell out of it. If not, well, there is just no hope for you, and killing you will bring back the goddamn honey.