It was likely that any sequel to The Wicker Man would be a disappointment, especially after nearly 40 years of waiting. But the news that Robin Hardy would once again write and direct, and that Christoper Lee would star, added some possibility that this had the makings of a cinematic treat.
But unfortunately I feel like I should cut to the chase and tell you the bad news, that The Wicker Tree is an awful film. The premise has some similarities to the original, with heathen goings on and ritual sacrifice in Scotland but the comparisons really end there. But what’s lacking is the excellent soundtrack of the original and much of the quirkiness of the film. The main problem with The Wicker Tree is that we don’t really care about the protagonists. The reason for this is that Hardy provides two excruciatingly gormless American born again Christians. Five minutes into the film, I was rooting for them to be bumped off.
Sadly, Christopher Lee only supplies a cameo, and it’s a vague scene tacked on to the film that makes little sense. Graham McTavish who plays the Lord Summerisle type role, Lee’s in the original, is a poor actor by contrast. Little more to add about this, other than it veers so far off track that the ending is something of a tribute to the far superior Carry on Screaming.
The themes of the original Wicker Man haven’t really left cinema, with usually the more obscure films carrying on the tradition of heathen cults. The latest, and possibly the best British film of the last few years, is Kill List. Ben Wheatley’s second feature as director has received some polarised views from its audience. It’s an unusual, high original blend of domestic drama, mob thriller and horror film that has teased some to the point of anger. The film is admittedly confusing, although watching it twice allowed me the opportunity to make more sense of it, although I advise that this is viewing for the stronger constitution.
I enjoyed Kill List. It is genuinely unsettling because of the uncertain narrative structure, and like the best cinema doesn’t guarantee that all of the answers posed in the film can be answered. Kill List and its predecessor Down Terrace place Wheatley as the most interesting director currently working on British cinema. Both are highly recommended as he has a signature to his film making style. Also both are very complementary and share many of the same actors, including the excellent Michael Smiley. I eager await Ben Wheatley’s next film Sightseers.