The Wicker Man Screen 92 of 6 reviews

The Wicker Man

1973

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  • It's a masterclass in threatening coziness, in the ways that the ruddy, friendly faces of a rural town can creep you the hell out... take the ride, because it has a prime horror movie ending. And if that prime horror movie ending bums you out, you can always pick yourself up again by heading to YouTube and watching Nicolas Cage scream about the bees.

  • One could choose to view “The Wicker Man” cynically, as an extremely clever version of 1970s “male-gaze” cinema in which Summerisle’s implausible levels of female pulchritude and nudity are not technically gratuitous, but serve the story. That’s a valid perspective, but from this distance it looks more to me like a work of seductive erotic genius. This movie is a product of its time, to be sure, but that time was perhaps the most adventurous era in cinema history.

  • Knowing something is up and knowing just what that is prove to be two very different things for both protagonist and viewer, and The Wicker Man is propelled by the thrill of not knowing. Many a film has tried to replicate this wonderfully off-kilter vibe—and a few, most recently Ben Wheatley's Kill List, have come close—but none has quite pulled it off.

  • Were Robin Hardy’s mystery nothing more than an English take on the backwoods-horror genre, it would still be one of the more paranoid films to come out of the U.K. in the early ’70s, no mean feat in itself. But it’s the way this movie keeps plying viewers with jovial acoustic folk songs one moment and creepy-as-fuck images the next... that still makes this cult film/“cult” film a truly unsettling experience decades later.

  • With a kind of rhythmic energy, the film has a unique and disjointed cadence that inspires a troubling unease, especially as matched with the overcast but nonetheless visually sunny environments. Facing forgotten Celtic rituals revived during the hippie movement with the uptight Protestantism that came to dominate the UK over the centuries, the film marries two disparate ideologies that threaten reason and justice within contemporary society.

  • The new scenes are in fact old, while the old scenes have been made to look new — and there is a compelling continuity to these hybridised materials no more difficult to synthesise than the vibrant character of Willow, composited from Britt Ekland’s upper body, Annie Ross’ voice and Jane Jackson’s gyrating backside.

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