Wednesday, October 17, 2012

30 Days of Fright - 16: The Wicker Tree

Beginning in Texas, USA, The Wicker Tree (2010) sees virgin country-pop singing sensation Beth Boothby and her equally untouched fiancé Steve preparing for a trip to Scotland where they intend to spread the good word in keeping with their evangelical Christian born-again stance on life. In Scotland they are put up by Sir Lachlan Morrison and his wife who provide them with access to and credibility among the local heathens even as the media drag up Beth's less than wholesome past.

Beth and Steve try out their door to door brand of God-bothering in the more urban areas of southern Scotland and are totally ignored. Switching to the countryside they get a warmer welcome but are confused by the natives interest in more pagan style religions, with many people claiming to worship a goddess in that hipp-dippy style of goddess worship where every little thing is the manifestation of the bitch, from a nearby river to the moon and everything in between.

As Beth and Steve encounter the locals their host, Lachlan, is busy with the nuclear power plant he runs, though his idea of running the place is really to continue to cover up an accident that happened some time previously, the result of which is a poisoned water table which has rendered everyone nearby sterile.

With May Day approaching, many of the villagers are busy with preparations for the festivities and Lachlan reveals to Beth and Steve that he wishes them to play very special roles as part of the fun, though he fails to mention exactly what's expected of them...

A scene from Dobbin the Pantomime Horse's little known Sex Tape

Someone, somewhere thinks that The Wicker Tree is a good film. Statistically, there has to be somebody out there who thinks that. That person is deserving of our pity and scorn as they, whoever they may be, is a fucking idiot. The Wicker Tree is such a terrible film that it makes me a little bit sad, incredibly disappointed, and wild fucking angry!

Ever since The WickerMan graced the silver screen back in 1973 and reminded us all why cinema was invented, people have been trying to cash in on the story. When Nicholas Cage made such a balls of his attempt back in 2006 I thought that would be the end of it as no one would wanted to be tarred with that brush. Of course, there was always the chance that some reckless fool would try to create a “good” remake or sequel in order to break whatever jinx had fallen on the franchise but that notion had always been the stuff of nightmares. It never occurred to me that the reckless fool who’d actually take a crack at it would be Robin Hardy, the man who directed the original!

Hardy did a great job with The Wicker Man, of that there is no doubt, but after nearly thirty years of being told how great his film is he finally believed that hype and made a follow up. The mistake Hardy made this time around was tackling the writing bit himself as well as the direction. The Wicker Tree uses the exact formula as the ’73 flick. There’s a bunch of Scottish people who follow a pagan religion, an outsider (or two) who are deeply religious virgins, a threat to the pagans of a failure of the harvest of sorts, and a May Day ritual that needs some extra participants.

The Wicker Tree fails so utterly because there’s nothing like the levels of conflict between the two worlds of Pagans versus Christians that should exist. That absence is a mistake in the writing and the direction so both problems are Hardy’s fault. Without the sense of two worlds colliding there’s nothing to do while watching The Wicker Tree except wait for the inevitable end which is such an anti-climax that it gives the film a made for TV quality.

The Wicker Tree is so bad I have to give it the lowest score going, but I would advise anyone interested in cinema and film production to watch it as a fine example of a film in which everything, and I mean literally everything, is shit.

Two Thumbs Firmly Down for The Wicker Tree.

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