Watching a film is a lot like listening to someone tell you about their dream. Often, it is uninteresting, and even when it has that spark there is nonsense, plot holes, and things that make less sense than people think they should. Some argue that films don’t need to make complete sense and that impossible things can happen even when a plot is grounded in reality, that this is what makes films special. All these people are missing the point.
The vast majority of people believe that the world we live in makes sense. That there is cause and effect. That everything can be explained logically. Over many years of research and traveling, humanity’s past has proven that this simply isn’t the case. There is more going on than we realize.
There’s the age-old adage of “Show, don’t tell.” and unfortunately when it comes to entities and events that are beyond our mortal understanding, this isn’t always possible. The Wicker Man believes in this adage. Nicolas Cage is a cop, so in the film’s introduction, we see him riding on his motorcycle doing traditional police activities such as eating at a diner, ticketing abandoned cars, and making traffic stops. Cage’s character Edward Malus does not believe in this adage. Malus makes no attempt to show everyone that he is a police officer; instead of conducting his investigation in a manner you’d expect he decides to just shout a lot and barge his way into places he has no jurisdiction over.
After his standard police activities, Malus returns a doll to a girl who has thrown it out of a moving car, but while he is doing so the car is impacted head-on by a large truck and becomes engulfed in flames. Malus attempts to save the girl and her mother but ultimately fails. The car explodes and Malus is thrown onto the ground before the title card is shown. While the explosion seems wholly unnecessary at first, other than serving as a convenient excuse for Malus to take some time off work, eagle-eyed viewers will pay attention to the occupants of the car and the doll.
While recovering, Malus receives an unstamped letter from his ex-wife; a child is missing and he’s the only person she trusts. Malus makes his way to her, bribing a seaplane pilot to get onto Summers Isle, and we’re thrown into an unusual investigation. Through my travels, I’ve been to many places like Summer’s Isle and can say that visiting them is absolutely a bad idea, but unlike the film’s protagonist, I’m not allergic to bees, or in fact anything you’d find in this world.
I was recently due to go on an archaeological dig in Bournemouth, but the night prior a fever came over me and my sleep was greatly disturbed. I had a horrible nightmare and woke up covered in sweat, after falling back asleep it would repeat, continuing until dawn. In the nightmare I wake up late, I’ve missed my flight and I’m feeling queasy. I stumble towards my bedroom door. The place that greets me is not my hallway but a car park, and at its end, a building with a blue light beckons to me. I feel a force pulling me towards it, but before I reach the door I wake up.
I once visited an island that was occupied by storm worshipers that couldn’t be reached by traditional means. After reading an ancient newspaper article about how they caused shipping disasters, I found myself there in my sleep. I dreamt of waves and of long blue robes, then to my surprise, the next morning I awoke in their church. Needless to say, this experience meant that when I came across the GateBuster from my dream I was not at all phased. If this was an intimidation tactic, it failed.
“Welcome, Professor Mathers. You have come of your own free will to keep this appointment with the GateBuster. And now the game is over, the game of the hunter leading the hunted. You came to find our blue light but it is we who have found you, just as we intended to do.
The dream was from all of us here. Your invitation to review, one might say. You see, you were the man we needed and we were determined to get you here.”
These were the words of the lone staff member standing outside the door, at the very least I could appreciate the theatrics so played along. After exploring the store it became apparent that the only videotapes were inside a cardboard box on the counter. There was a list of various films but the box contained 25 copies of the same film: The Wicker Man.
I took a tape as well as a review card from the employee as I left. This was the moment that I sealed my own fate. Even now I can hear my own tape coming to its end. My only hope is to finish this review and hope the staff is kind enough to rewind.
From the explosion in the introduction to the choice of words used by the women of the island, the film set’s its trap well. Malus turns out to be the father of the child, the island’s men won’t speak, and everything has been an elaborate ruse to get him to burn to death in the Wicker Man. He is to be sacrificed so the harvest does well. As far as human sacrifices go this is nothing to write home about, but it is enjoyable to watch Cage scream about bees.
For a film with such a large reputation, Cage’s performance isn’t particularly exciting and neither are those of his co-stars. While an interesting premise can make a film great, it cannot do so if the actors put in minimal effort. I would rate the performance given by the GateBuster employee who mirrored the film’s script more highly than I would rate the film itself.