The Wicker Tree

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The Wicker Tree

How much fun it would be to write instead about 1973's The Wicker Man, a missing-girl thriller that, on its slow path to intrigue, trips into stupefying horror. Most nongoth viewers don't even know the movie exists, but they would love its then-young star, Edward Woodward (on '80s TV as the ice-cold Equalizer), and might get a kick out of the movie's perverse anti-law-and-order vibe. When Nicolas Cage attempted a remake in 2006, the only thing scary about it was the star's hairline.

Original director Robin Hardy has little reason to return to his early triumph other than to remind us that he was once capable of making a decent film---this pseudosequel has the Brit trotting out the same gotchas to awkward effect. This time, it's not a sergeant traveling to a remote U.K. island, but a pair of evangelical country bumpkins (Nicol and Garrett) coming from Texas to save the "lost people of Scotland." But don't they see the wicked glare of their host, Sir Lachlan (McTavish), who is not only devilish, but bald? It's not long before promise rings are shed as the locals taint the visitors' self-righteous purity. The movie isn't a keen observation of do-gooder vanity so much as a hee-haw slam on ugly Americanism, a vast reduction of the original's notion of unraveling civilization. Poor Christopher Lee has been wrangled for a one-scene cameo; let the man rest already. He seems encased in dirt.

Follow Joshua Rothkopf on Twitter: @joshrothkopf

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By: Joshua Rothkopf

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Release details

Rated: R
Release date: Friday January 27 2012
Duration: 90 mins

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