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What they say: When two young missionaries (Brittania Nicol, Henry Garrett) head to Scotland, they are initially charmed by the locals in the town of Tressock, and agree to become the local Queen of the May and Laddie for the annual town festival. But the couple is not prepared for the frightening consequences of their decision, and the very disturbing secrets they are about to discover about Tressock’s seemingly friendly townspeople.
Written and Directed by Robin Hardy, THE WICKER TREE also features Graham McTavish, Jacqueline Leonard, Honeysuckle Weeks, Clive Russell with Christopher Lee, star of the original THE WICKER MAN.
What I say: The Wicker Man was one of the most important and influential of the horror films of the 70’s. With its mix of Paganism, sex, religion, and more, Robin Hardy crafted a very different, very unsettling kind of horror film. One where the horror comes from what lies in a mans heart.
Forty years later, Robin Hardy returns to the Pagan horror film. In this tale a pair of Christian evangelists, a pop singer and her boyfriend, come to Scotland to “recruit the heathens”. At first they are warmly welcomed, but as time goes on the sinister undertow of the town starts to reveal its self and temptation after temptation are layered on the couple until the true reason for their being welcomed is revealed.
Standing in the shadow of The Wicker Man is no mean feat, but for the most part The Wicker Tree holds its own. The tone, while similar to the original, does branch out on its own and uses different themes to explore the differences between Paganism and Christianity. The film boasts a dark tone with some black humor peppered throughout. Most of the humor is welcome, but the antics of the hosts staff almost derail the film more than once.
The performances are mostly very good, but unfortunately the weakest cast members are the two leads. Brittania Nicol who plays Beth is beautiful but kind of stiff, and Henry Garrett who plays Steve comes off as a total dolt. Honeysuckle Wells id fantastic as the temptress Lolly and even original star Christopher Lee makes a cameo.
The transfer is gorgeous, crystal clear and sharp as a tack. The beautiful Scottish countryside is represented beautifully and the colors are amazing.
But for the important question; is it as good as The Wicker Man? Um…no, but it’s not miles away. It’s a decent little film, but I doubt anyone will be discussing it in 40 years. I did enjoy the film but I do wish the tone had been a little more even throughout. And bonus, no Nic Cage!
The Wicker Tree will be released on April 24th, 2012. You can pre-order it here!