The Wicker Man (2006)

(On DVD, October 2011) A bizarre blend of awful ideas and hilarious execution, The Wicker Man is, remarkably enough, just as bad and funny as its reputation suggests.  At times, it feels like the result of the fabled Hollywood idea-flattening process: Whatever creepy quality the premise might have held have been squashed by dumb artistic choices, glossy routine horror tropes and an increasingly unhinged script.  Nicolas Cage truly stars as a policeman investigating a disappearance on an isolated island: his borderline-psychotic performance is uniquely his, and the only sustained pleasure that the film has to offer.  The rest of the film is a mess of weak development, generic tropes, dumb character decisions and a drawn-out ending.  (As with a bunch of by-the-number horror movies, it also fails to explain why the villains go to such extremes in their plans.)  While I’m always happy to see Leelee Sobieski even in a small role, the rest of the film is dull except when it’s bad and intensely predictable throughout.  Ten of the last fifteen minutes are demented enough to be enjoyable, as Cage goes around punching and kicking women (once in a bear suit –I’m not making this up), scaring kids and waving a gun like a crazy man.  It’s hard not to feel sympathy for the antagonists when the protagonist is so obviously unpleasant and unable to muster even the most basic sense of fitting-in.  I’m not sure what writer/director Neil LaBute was thinking when he put together The Wicker Man, but the best thing about it may be the numerous YouTube videos lampooning the result.  (I’m particularly fond of Best Scenes From “The Wicker Man” and The Comedy Trailer)

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