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Review The Wicker Man (1973): Highly overrated.

genre: horror, mystery

After reading so many praising reviews I was very motivated to watch The Wicker Man. First I considered watching the remake with Nicolas Cage first.  But nobody seemed to be happy with that version and decided to leave that alone for now. So I watched the original and to be honest I am at a loss of words. This movie has to be one of the most overrated movies ever made. If you can even call this a movie. It was more of a musical than a conventional movie about cult traditions. As a true thriller / horror this fails miserably.

Be warned this review will contain (mild) spoilers. 

From the moment Edward Woodward comes to the island it is obvious that something will happen to him. You don't have to be a genius to discover that. He is called to the island in order to find a missing girl.  During his investigation he soon finds out that strange things are going on like villagers running around naked, having sex on the beach, pagan rituals, villagers singing songs. And because of this he suspects foul play. After witnessing these strange events you really beginning to expect that the viewer also is being made a fool of. The so called twist isn't a twist but just an ending. Since the result of the event in the end doesn't get revealed. This annoyed me a great deal. What was the point of this movie? To entertain me, to shock me, to educate me on ignorance or other man's religion? This movie is neither thrilling, scary or exciting. I did laugh at some scenes since it was so ridiculous. 

But overall it was so dull and irritating. Not once does the sergeant call for backup. Maybe he was proud, but he seemed quite intelligent so why didn't he? And if you suspect foul play you are not going to announce that. Certainly not to the people who you can't trust. In this case the whole village couldn't be trusted. It could be that he was blinded by his sense of justice. But even then it is a bit far fetched that he didn't make more of an effort to leave the island to get help. I really tried my best to understand why many reviewers liked this movie. I can only speculate and will keep those thoughts to myself since they can be considered rude. I do think that this movie is really bad. If it wasn't for Edward Woodward, Christopher Lee and some beautiful women I would fall a sleep. I am not a fan of musicals and I already had doubts of combining song and dance with thriller elements. The result is a movie that thanks to strange events and some songs starts out interesting but ultimately fails in surprising the viewer. No matter from what angle you look at it. 

The real mystery and horror to me is the fact that they have made a remake of this poor movie. Why not make a movie about that thought and process? That would be far more intriguing and interesting than this.

Edit 08-12-2023:

Apparently there is this fest / ritual called Sunneklaas on Ameland (The Netherlands). It's a small island in the North Sea. Ameland for Amelanders. Outsiders aren't allowed. I must admit, that this phenomenon gives me more creeps than the anything in The Wicker Man. Why? Because it's real and far more disturbing. Underneath videos are in Dutch. But it shouldn't matter because you can see the people are very hostile towards the journalists. Even ramming them. The police did nothing. Only after the director of the network called the Minister of Justice, action was taken.



Unknown said...

100% agree with everything above. I bought this film on Dvd watched and returned it the next day. When I was asked, why I wanted a refund I told the guy 'its fucking shit'. He agreed and gave me store credit. On the cover of the dvd it had something like greatest British horror of all time. Anyone I know who has watched it all hate it.

Anonymous said...

It's not a musical and I think you have to be an adult to appreciate it. Stick with Spiderman or a similar low IQ offering. :)

chrichtonsworld.com said...

You think you have to be an adult to appreciate it. So you aren't sure? If you are going to insult me, at least do it with conviction. Then I could have taken you seriously. I am very aware that The Wicker Man is about cults and their traditions. But real cults are far more sinister because they work subtle and methodical. They often try to get to you with kindness and love. Real people would flee the minute they saw even a pinch of craziness displayed in this film. And let's say I am wrong, then why not enlighten me with your supposed wisdom and explain it to me. You know, discuss it like adults do.

Anonymous said...

Thoughtful and intelligent response to a snarky, immature remark. Wickerman was a great disappointment to many judging from the scores of bad reviews in publications such as rotten tomatoes, IMDb and various websites.

Anonymous said...

Agree. I have seen thousands of horror/occult films and this is one of the most lame and overrated films ever. I think Lee at one point of his life was frustrated with his lack of diverse roles and overvalued certain roles and films. Nothing special here and nothing you haven't seen dozens of times before. At most it woukd be a peetty good hour episode of Hamners 'Journey to the Unknown."

Swevicus said...

This isn't a film you can just watch, you have to be in the right mood for it. With that said, I can understand where you're coming from. It's a very strange film with an identity crisis, remembered mainly (if not solely) for its iconic ending and the performances from Edward Woodward and Christopher Lee.

Anonymous said...

Really is a terrible movie..

chrichtonsworld.com said...

"This isn't a film you can just watch, you have to be in the right mood for it."

I think that is the case for most films. Actually, I very rarely, just watch a film. I wished I could go in blind all the time. Then again, there is so much crap out there that you wished you were better prepared.

However, I do like to state that true masterpieces manage to draw in people somehow. There is always something about them that get you hooked. I just didn't experience this with The Wicker Man.

Anonymous said...

Agree. Mediocre and predictable.




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