Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The Wicker Man (2006)

This isn't much of a horror film, but then I don't think the 1973 original is much of one either, so in my eyes Neil LaBute moved in the right direction here. From where I stand, this is actually a rather inspired autocritical comedy -- LaBute's gender politics have always been a bit goofy and ham-handed, but The Wicker Man is the first time where that goofiness is on purpose. I mean, you don't have Nicolas Cage running around in a bear suit punching various women and call it a serious, straight-faced horror film. Claims of misogyny are understandable -- evil matriarchal society built on the hierarchy of the honeybee, ya know -- but such claims also miss the fact that, as always, LaBute doesn't look kindly upon the men in his scenario; Cage's crusading cop isn't sympathetic in the slightest, brusque and sexist as he is, and it's suggested that, in LaBute's eyes, he pretty much deserves his ultimate fate. (It's not like LaBute's being coy or subtle about this, either -- fer crissakes, Cage's character's name is Edward Malus, pronounced 'male-us.') Also not to be discounted is Cage's splendidly unhinged performance -- he's a wild, unrestrained actor, but he's also smart enough to know when he's doing drama and when he's having a lark. In short: piss-poor as horror, but it was never destined to be a genre offering anyway, so stop yer whining excitable horror fans and enjoy this for the hilarious thing it is.

Grade: B


Anonymous Anonymous said...

He (Cage's character) DESERVED his ultimate fate? I mean, yeah, the dude had his problems, but come on.... he wasn't THAT bad a guy, especially considering in relation to what happens to him, which I won't give away here, except to say it isn't very pleasant.

And not to sound like the stereotypical knee-jerk anti-PC conservative bemoaning double standards, but why is a movie that portrays an evil, ruthless matriarchal society potentially "misogynistic," while a movie that portyals men as evil pigs (Thelma and Louise, et. al) is typically seen as enlightened and progressive? Why is it okay to see men as bad guys but not to see women as bad girls?

That said, I basically agree with your review. This movie is high camp, and ought not be taken seriously in any way.
--Andy Nowicki

5:16 PM  
Blogger Steve said...

Sorry, I worded that poorly -- I meant to imply that LaBute, not I, agrees with the ultimate fate of Malus. I'll rework that.

Also, as a generally non-PC liberal, I carry no truck with the so-called progressiveness of Thelma and Louise (which, I admit, I haven't seen). My tastes lean more towards the caustic we're-all-fucked attitude of Baise-moi.

1:35 AM  
Anonymous In the Company of Jen said...

You nailed it at "In short: piss-poor"

With all due respect to your interpretation on the hilarity factor and Cage discerning between dramatic acting and a lark, you should check out this video interview with Cage and LaBute re: Wicker Man.

There's NO way I'm buying that LaBute set out to do a campier version of this flick. His goal (according to this interview) was to update it in his specific way, but most definitely retain the "horror" element.

Hands down, one of the Top Ten Shittiest Flicks of 2006.

How, kind sir, did you so generously grace this crapfest with a "B"?


5:20 PM  
Blogger Steve said...

I graced it with a B because it was bloody hilarious. "How'd it get burnt? How'ditgetburnthow'ditgetburnthow'ditgetburnt?!?!"

Even if you're right re: LaBute's artistic intention, though, that doesn't change that A) this fits in with his misanthropic men-vs.-women body of work and B) it's completely absurd and all the more fun for it. If anything, if LaBute didn't intend this to be a comedy, it just puts it that much closer to true camp.

Also, I wouldn't expect Cage to say as much in front of his director, but his ripe performance smacks of an intentional undermining of any attempt at seriousness. It's like the kind of thing you'd expect from late Brando, and Cage has done this kind of thing often enough before, going way over the top just to amuse himself, that I can't see how it was accidental or how Cage thought he was delivering a credible dramatic performance.

Also: Screw the Sox, woman! :-D

11:43 AM  

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