Saturday, September 09, 2006

Wicker Man

I haven't seen the remake of The Wicker Man and probably never will. A weird way to start a review but after this, I don't think I'll waste my time.

When I watched the first Wicker Man, I remember thinking, "This is one movie that they can't remake." The whole concept of pagans is so different now that it would lose any sort of sinister atmosphere and just seem silly. That must not have stopped the director.

Recent pop culture, like Scooby Doo and the Witch's Ghost treat Wiccans as Tolkien's elves, not just a religion but an entirely different and superior species. One character refers to herself as one-fourth Wiccan on her mother's side and it's not meant as a joke. It's hard to make a horror movie about of somebody who doesn't even scare Shaggy.

The original Wicker Man treated pagans and Christians as flawed but strong. Early in the first movie, a hippy-type, Christian cop is treated almost as the moral center: he upholds law and order to the extent of not letting people murder each other but wouldn't hassle that Detroit Lions coach who drives in the nude.

The pagans get the definite upper-hand but even the up-tight, virginal, Christian protagonist is presented fairly. He never loses his faith, never yields to the pagans' gods, and in general comes off as stiff and prissy but also intelligent and tough. I can't say for sure but according to the reviews, none of the characters in the remake are this developed.

Even the original wasn't much of a true horror movie or a mystery. You pretty much figured out what was going to happen by the first 25 minutes and the rest of the movie was just about creating a sinister mood. I guess Hollywood could make a deliberately understated movie like that but that's not exactly the industry's strength.

With so many other stories along these lines that could have been adapted for a modern audience, I don't know why they remade this one. It's not like the original was a blockbuster. God forbid having to come up with a completely new idea but I certainly wouldn't have spent millions to make this one.

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