DVD The Wicker Tree

DVD The Wicker Tree
DVD The Wicker Tree

Run time: 96 min
Rating: 4.0
Genres: Drama | Horror
Director: Robin Hardy
Writers: Robin Hardy, Robin Hardy
Stars: Brittania Nicol, Henry Garrett, Graham McTavish
Storyline
Young Christians Beth and Steve, a gospel singer and her cowboy boyfriend, leave Texas to preach door-to-door in Scotland . When, after initial abuse, they are welcomed with joy and elation to Tressock, the border fiefdom of Sir Lachlan Morrison, they assume their hosts simply want to hear more about Jesus. How innocent and wrong they are. Written by Anonymous
Plot Keywords: british horror, supernatural horror, three word title, plant in title, satire
Details:
Country: UK
Release Date: 27 August 2011 (UK)
Box Office
Budget: $7,750,000 (estimated)

4 Comments

  1. Difficult to describe just how bad this attempt to bring up to date the Wicker Man story is without totally dissecting it and going into detail, but frankly it's just not worth that kind effort. Some of the acting is okay – though the two American leads are both pretty poor – and the direction is competent, that's all the positives done and dusted ! The storyline doesn't work very well, the music is absolutely woeful and completely wrong – unlike in the Wicker Man where it was perfect and added greatly to the atmosphere – and the sense of realism you get from the original is totally missing here. The film feels and looks a bit like a fairly low budget Hollywood remake, a real surprise considering they were both made by the same director. I'm not going to waste any more time and energy on this very poor effort, except to say that it's only highlight for me was a comedy scene and if you love the truly classic Wicker Man, do yourself a big favour and stay well away from the Wicker Tree !

  2. Just saw a screening of this spiritual successor to The Wicker Man at the London FrightFest. Director Robin Hardy's film (based on his own book 'Cowboys for Christ') shares many similarities with the cult British horror classic that he found success with in the 1970's, but The Wicker Tree is different enough to stand-out on it's own and not be classified as more of the same, even if the basic plot-lines are almost identical. This time around it's about a born again duo of evangelical country & western singers who have come to Scotland as 'redeemers' to convert an isolated pagan village to the path of Christ. However, where The Wicker Man was at turns as equally dark as it was intriguing, The Wicker Tree is a far more satirical affair, with jibes aimed at the genre and the background and beliefs of the protagonists.

    Christopher Lee makes a brief appearance as an old man in a flash back, who may or may not be intended as an elderly Lord Summerisle, but while his ill-health prevented him from taking on the role of the main villain his shoes are well filled by Graham McTavish, who provides some much needed fire and brimstone in contrast to the rather stilted performances from the two lead characters, although there were some good performances from the supporting cast, most notably Clive Russel as the butler Beame and Honeysuckle Weeks as the promiscuous pagan Lolly.

    I found the setting and direction to be excellent and again Hardy has created an intriguing pagan culture that I would loved to have seen more focus upon, but while we all know what the outcome of the story is going to be at the outset of the film it often seems to concern itself more with poking fun than with captivating and intriguing, or even scaring the audience. It got a good share of laughs throughout and even a round of applause at one point, and I enjoyed it in that respects, but as a horror film, as a film doomed to stand in the shadow of The Wicker Man, I found it to be lacking.

  3. A horrible abomination of a film. I had very low expectations for this film but this is much worse than I ever thought it could possibly be. In fact, in its own way, it is one of the very worst films I have ever seen.

    I appreciate that Robin Hardy is now an old gentleman and his faculties must be somewhat impaired but how could he agree to decimate the legacy that he built up with the original "Wicker Man" by producing this mess? ( yes I know really, it was the money! ) The narrative is a garbled piece of nonsense and the film seems to move forward as if it was assembled from 4 or 5 different stories. The motivations of the characters make no sense. For example two young American evangelists go on a high profile visit to Scotland, including media interviews etc, but very quickly allow themselves to completely change their schedule and go to some sleepy rural village. The Leader of the Cult isn't even convinced of what his group are doing but still blunders ahead with murders etc. The young male evangelist has a vow of celibacy but a quick glimpse of local lady "Lolly" ( about whom there is much more to follow) displaying her thimble chested form in a river and 3 minutes later he has committed the evil deed with her. The pagan group ( who look like a bunch of middle class chumps straight from the Glastonbury Festival ) wander away for the main female character "Beth Boothby" completely ignoring the fact that they have captured her and yet 5 minutes later they are ensnaring her again for their rite. Promising characters, such as "Lady Delia Morrison", wander in and out of the film and appear to serve no purpose and are omitted from scenes in which they would be expected to appear The acting is truly, truly awful. Whereas in the original "Wicker Man" the female temptation to Edward Woodward's Christian innocent was provided by beautiful, ripe, alluring beauties such as Britt Ekland, Ingrid Pitt and Diane Cilento the temptress in this film, "Lolly", is played by a minor TV actress who rejoices in the name Honeysuckle Weeks, and who looks like a not very convincing gender reassignment case. I'm afraid she would certainly tempt no-one from the path of celibacy! Her delivery of her dialogue is so bad that at one stage they have to subtitle the girl even though she is speaking English! Clive Russell as "Beame" does his usual comedy relief but his character and performance is completely out of keeping with the tone of the rest of the film. Poor Christopher Lee turns up in flashback acting opposite some ugly kid who must be the son of one of the producers because the stilted delivery of his dialogue is sub primary school play standard. The two American evangelists are flat and dull too. Henry Garrett as cowboy Steve has the charisma of a cardboard box and Britannia Nichol as "Beth Boothby", looks a bit like Katie Holmes in a blond wig and a comedy pig nose and changes her characterisation from scene to scene. Poor kids must have thought this was their big break! The photography is horrible. The light keeps changing throughout individual scenes so that we go from morning to early evening light in about a minute. At certain points it appears that some sort of filter is being used but it could just be that the camera is out of focus.

    The magic and wonder of the original "Wicker Man" came from a genuinely convincing creation of a rural pagan world. The setting of the original, on an island as opposed to some anonymous border village as in this film, served to reinforce the plausibility of such a world existing. However in this film it is never explained why this one village has evolved in this way compared with neighbouring villages? The appearance of the "Wicker Man" at the end of that film was a truly horrifying event, but one that is entirely consistent with where the narrative of the story leads. However "the Wicker Tree" itself serves absolutely no purpose in the film other than to provide a ridiculous twist featuring the Sir Lachlan Morrison character. What was the purpose of the "Wicker Tree"? The viewer is left with no idea at all other than to assume that it was just stuck in there as an afterthought to try and create some sort of link with the original film.

    The "shocking" conclusion of the film sees Beth Boothby reduced to a wax works display and fully on view. Which Pagan tradition features turning sacrifices into wax works statues? What did the creation of a wax work dummy from the May Queen achieve? The offering of Edward Woodward to the Wicker Man in the first film was entirely consistent and plausible within the traditions and situation created. And honestly, if you had murdered a high profile visitor would you put them on display as a wax works model? In this film the end was simply a horribly stupid conceit that made no sense whatsoever.

    The film ends up looking like it had been conceived in 37 seconds by a bunch of film executive dummies in suits rather than 37 years in the making by the creator of the original "Wicker Man". I see that they are trying to present it as a "black comedy" and Robin Hardy has said that "it's okay to laugh". Well it's okay to laugh WITH a film but surely not AT a film! Extremely poor and ultimately very sad.

  4. The Wicker Man is one of the greatest and most original films you will ever see. For years I have anticipated this spiritual sequel, and so it's no surprise that I was very disappointed. It seems as though, despite years of rumours and hard work, once Hardy got around to making it, all the life had been sucked from him and the film. The Wicker Tree sees two born again Christians travel from America to Scotland to preach the word of Jesus. Unbeknownst to them, this is a place of pagan rituals and sacrifice. This film was certainly trying to parody moments from its predecessor at times. With some heavy handed moments of comedy. Unfortunately, The Wicker Man is one of those films where you laugh nervously at it. It may be easy to lampoon, but it also has fear interlaced with the weird. Here, everything seems slightly amateur and repetitive. The score has nothing on the original, and the songs are barely memorable. We are also given two protagonists that we don't care about. They are comedic clichés of how super American Christians are. All they want to do is spread the word of Jesus in a cheesy cornball manor. Unlike Howie, who was a devote Christian fighting to find a missing girl. The Wicker Man seemed to triumph despite its flaws. Those are what added to the memorable quirks which happened organically. Here they are forced into the film, which means that some actors seem unsure as to whether this is a comedy, horror, satire, or thriller. It's none of these. I may revisit it one day without the expectations, but it makes me want to watch The Wicker Man again.

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