The Wicker Tree is the sequel to the cult classic The Wicker Man and if you were a fan of the original, writer/director Robin Hardy is also responsible for this curious theatrical follow up. Starring nobody reputable, you might recognize Graham McTavish as the bad guy. But other than one fantastically short and relatively hardcore scene, the most exciting moment is the 30 second appearance from Christopher Lee, a weak throw back to the original. Otherwise, prepare for a movie about reborn Christian missionaries who fall prey to a Scottish conspiracy to cover up an environmental disaster through Paganism… WHAT?! Yup.
Oh and worth mentioning before you make the jump… The Wicker Tree is a follow up to the original 1973 version, and not the Nic Cage version (Seth, how is he NOT in this movie?!?)
There are many ways in which the sequel hearkens to the orignal The Wicker Man. Like the original, The Wicker Tree explores the limits of religious faith in the face of ‘modern’ society. For Beth and boyfriend Steve, born again Christians with unsavoury pasts, faith is deeply tied to their own salvation and the salvation of others; which prompts them to mission to Scotland to help spread the word of Jesus. For the Pagans who they meet, faith is tied to ancient rituals designs to elicit action from their gods.
Similar also is the sense of desperation which drives the Pagan-minded town to extremes. Unimportant Spoiler Alert: if you pay attention, you learn that the town has fallen victim to secret hazardous waste spill, which has rendered the inhabitants sterile. But this never really affects the outcome, other than to make their rituals seem hopeless.
Along with this minimal reveal, other strange choices are made in this movie. For example, the excessively long musical sequences and dated musical score… this movie felt like it was testing MY faith in its own salvation.
But hey – when the cover of a movie comes with critical acclaim like, “You’ll see faces, performances and scenes you’ll never see in any other movie,” printed on the cover, you know there wasn’t much to say about the film. I’m certainly not giving anything shocking away (especially if you’ve seen the original) when I tell you that the sacrifice at the climax is a pretty great scene. The short, oddly shot, 15 second glimpse of Pagans devouring their victim and howling like animals has great impact – where was this incisive cinematic approach during the rest of the film?
But in retrospect, I realize that this scene only seemed to hint at greatness because of the tepid scenes that surround it. The ending spirals in to luke warm conclusions, most of them foregone and utterly predictable. If you’re a die hard Robin Hardy fan or enjoy vaguely Christian musical numbers, I would still recommend checking out The Wicker Tree; and it does offer some interesting moments leading up to the AWESOME sacrifice scene.
Oddly enough, though I’m no fan of Nicholas Cage… this film probably could have done with more of him.