27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
The original Wicker Man starring Edward Woodward from 1973 had a sinister innocence and spontaneously animalistic nature. Since it was from the 70s it seemed to carry a certain psychedelic quality as well. The remake of the Wicker Man with Nicholas Cage at least attempted to capture the dangerous and mystic qualities of its predecessor. The Wicker tree on the other hand, is at its best, a B-movie. No magic, no mystery, predictable, and conspicuously unfunny in its attempt at ribald humor. It makes me sad that this film was more a tribute to a burning man festival than to ancient religion and its timeless mysteries. I am not a religious person but I tire of the sophomoric arguments made for and against Christianity. Portraying Christians as bumpkins is ridiculous. Portraying pagans as tedious, impish and evil is equally as insulting. Altogether, this film is shallow and cursory when it needed to be more mystic and primal.
Finally, I recognized several British actors for which I have a great deal of respect. One has to wonder how badly they actually need to work to find themselves in this hideous mess. Also, assuming the two actors who played the Texas Christian couple were American, I personally know 50 people or more that are better actors than those two.
I am sad to say your money is better spent elsewhere.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
THE WICKER TREE is the long awaited companion film to Robin Hardy's famous horror film, THE WICKER MAN. THE WICKER TREE is set in 2010. Recording artist Beth Boothy (Brittania Nicol) and her fiancée, Steve (Henry Garrett), are leaving Texas for a two-year missionary journey to Scotland. Beth is a former country-pop musician who has now become a famous Christian music singer. When she and Steve arrive in Scotland they are hounded by media and her performance at the host church makes the local television news. Two people at that performance are Lord Lachlan Morrison (Graham McTavish) and his wife Lady Delia (Jacqueline Leonard). The Morrisons believe they have found the "special" pair of individuals that they have been looking for. After Beth and Steve's door-to-door evangelistic efforts are met with harsh resistance, they accept an offer from the Morrisons to visit their village and speak with the townspeople there. Despite being followers of a pagan religion, everyone in the village is extremely friendly to both Beth and Steve and are interested in listening to them and watching Beth perform. Lord Lachlan offers to make Beth the Queen of May and Steve the Laddie of May. In an attempt to impress the locals and better witnessing opportunities, they agree. However, things aren't exactly what they appear to be and the veneer of kindness worn by the locals is a mask that hides their true intentions.
I really enjoyed THE WICKER MAN. The ending of that film is one that is truly horrifying. It's a movie that will stick with you long after you've seen it.
THE WICKER TREE shares some basic themes with THE WICKER MAN, but it is a different work. THE WICKER MAN was more of a serious drama with elements of mystery and suspense and some horror. THE WICKER TREE contains some of those threads, but it's more of a dark comedy. In fact, if it wasn't for the last fifteen-twenty minutes of the movie, THE WICKER TREE would be a farcical version of that previous film. The featured characters in the film actually begin as caricatures instead of characters. For example, for most of the film Beth and Steve are just full of clichés and some untruths about Christians; they enter the "mission field" not knowing their own faith. On the other hand, most of the other characters begin as caricatures, too. For example, when Lord Lachlan and Lady Delia are at the church first watching Beth perform there are parts of their conversation that seem more like something taken from the conversation between two cartoon villains.
I think THE WICKER TREE is supposed to be a satirical (and comical) companion to THE WICKER MAN. However, due to the way the movie ends, it doesn't really work. The comic tone that has run through most of the movie is thrown away and the film turns darkly serious. The game is over. This wouldn't be an issue, except, it ruins the satire of the rest of the movie.
The biggest flaws with THE WICKER TREE is that the premise is completely unbelievable and there are too many open ends that are left unresolved at the end of the movie. For example, Beth Boothby is an international singing sensation. Everyone knew what she was doing in Scotland and if she suddenly disappeared, an investigation would take place. Why did the Morrisons choose her to be the May Queen knowing of her fame? I mean, there were girls in the village who even asked Beth for her autograph. Why was it important that the May Queen be a good singer? Were Beth and Steve really so naïve that they didn't ask any questions about what being the May Queen and Laddie would entail?
Overall, though the movie shares a philosophical/spiritual foundation with THE WICKER MAN, THE WICKER TREE is a different movie that just doesn't quite work. It makes a valid attempt at being its own creature, but copies too much from the first movie in the last act. It's an entertaining movie, but one that's a disappointing.
27 of 31 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
A quick search online indicates that The Wicker Tree is in eminent danger of being buried in a sea of middling to bad notices, and that is a real shame, for while the film is certainly flawed, it is nevertheless a unique and valuable piece of storytelling.
First, we must do away with the looming shadow of its predecessor: The Wicker Man it is most decidedly not - but then, what is? If one judges The Wicker Tree on its paucity of similarities to its spiritual forbear, then one will naturally consider it a failure simply because it was never intended to faithfully recreate the original film in the first place. The Wicker Tree, rather, is a black comedy/commentary painted in bold strokes that deals not in the nature of sacrifice, but in the nature of the various roles we play throughout our lives, and whether we are guided by or can avoid not faith, but fate.
Young former country-pop singer Beth Boothby (Brittania Nicol) has rejected her debauched, secular and trashy (literally, check the lyrics) music and image to embrace evangelical Christianity and folksier, mostly religious tunes. Together with her cowboy fiancee Steve (Henry Garrett) and their matching purity rings, she's on her way to Scotland (a country that was all but entirely Christian before North America was even discovered) to witness to those kilted heathens who - horror of horrors! - don't even believe in angels.
(Side note: that most critics seem to have missed the fact that The Wicker Tree is a black comedy playing on and with broad stereotypes even after having the above setup literally spelled out for them in the first ten minutes of the film is beyond me.)
It is in Scotland that Beth meets Lord Lachlan Morrison and his wife, Lady Delia (Graham McTavish and the criminally underused Jacqueline Leonard), and the wheel of fate is set inexorably in motion. Beth and Steve demonstrate time and again that they are not only naive, but also not intellectually equipped to engage in matters of philosophy or any faith other than their own, and so both fail utterly to sense the danger surrounding them. Interestingly, despite their intellectual disparity, Lachlan has an inner struggle that almost parallels Beth's - against who they were, who they are, and what they desire to be. While Beth struggles to live down her ignoble past, Lachlan faces questions about the nature and sincerity of his faith in the present, and rightly so, for it seems that, as owner of the local nuclear plant, he is fully cognizant of the fact that it is most likely his own business that has caused local birth rates to drop precipitously, though publicly he insists that he and his followers need only find the right sacrifice to solve their reproductive ills.
Betrayals of self, faith and others like these abound in The Wicker Tree. Steve is easily lead astray by local seductress Lolly (a stunning Honeysuckle Weeks), convincing him that he has failed both as man and a Christian. Lolly in turn attempts not once but twice to betray her fellow cultists while Lachlan all but admits to his wife his faith has abandoned him. It is Beth, however, who finally demonstrates most savagely that fate, not faith, rules this universe, as she betrays her own evangelical ideals in a moment of anger and despair.
Philosophical undercurrents aside, another question on a lot of minds seems to be whether or not this is a standard "horror" film. The answer is...complicated. It is at least as much a horror film as The Wicker Man, though by today's standards, neither film is stictly "horror" at all. The Wicker Tree does have horror elements, but also comedy elements and musical elements - more important than what genre to slot it into is that it is not always successful at blending all those genres, and that is in part why I concede that it is flawed.
Foremost among these flaws? It is unfortunately true that casting two unknowns in the lead roles was a gamble that did not entirely pay off. Nicol and Garrett both give some truly stilted line readings, but these moments in no way overshadow the film as whole. One would have liked to have seen the aforementioned parallels between Beth and Lachlan better defined, but they and other subplots remain underutilized. Finally, the shoestring budget is unfortunately very much evident in some of the cinematography and editing, but save for one scene in which Steve seems to doing some kind one-man see-saw act, the issues are minor and not overly distracting.
To sum up: Imperfect, but with a unique story and philosophical core. Put The Wicker Man out of your mind and give The Wicker Tree a shot strictly on its own merits. You will almost certainly find something to like.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
It's "Wicker Man" lite - really lite. Change the time period and the location (slightly) and add predictable storyline with really bad acting and you'll spend more time "ff" than watching/dozing. Disjointed storyline where plot lines appear and disappear without explanation. To describe it as humor or satire is simply attaching a tag without any supporting evidence.
An American, soon to be married, vacationing couple encounter some UK villagers who need a virgin sacrifice to counter the sterilizing effects of a nearby nuclear plant's sterilizing radiation.
A low budget of locals, probably offered $100, to put a few squiggles of paint on their exposed upper bodies and asked to carry a few torches to a wicker bonfire. The rest of the budget is the location prop of a big manor and a couple of horses to ride around on. That's it, you've seen the whole movie. When the one person dies it's all off screen - you see nothing and was as anticlimactic as watching water boil on the stove.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
This movie has acquired a bad rep since its release. Some review titles from here illustrate that with "Burn This Movie (we've upgraded from burning books. This is the 21st century, afterall...), Worst Movie Ever (allow me to get you a list of things much, much worse and introduce you to Uwe Boll!). Now that my rant is over, let me just say that I believe these to be unfair in their judgment.
The Wicker Man was a spectacular film (the original and not the Nicolas Cage sewer pickle). The Wicker Tree is also a great movie. I will say that it is not on the same level but it does have a lot of merit on its own. There's a different feel in the fact that this is a black comedy. If you go into this with an open mind I think you may find a film that's entertaining, chilling and quite funny at times. I do wish there had been more detail in the pagan rites and customs but that's just me speaking as a pagan. Overall I say give it a try. In my opinion, its a nice companion to the original and I'm eagerly awaiting the promised third installment.
- Charlie Morgan
author of Sticks And Stones