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Sometimes, dead is better.
cjmccracken6 May 2012
Admittedly, you could have taken a 6 inch brush and coloured me sceptical for this one. I am a huge fan of the original Wicker Man (less so of the Nicolas Cage version) and so it was with apprehension and doubt that I ventured into this sequel of sorts. The one saving grace may have been the close involvement of Robin Hardy, the original author and director of the Christopher Lee classic.

Lee was pencilled in to star in this movie but unfortunately health problems excluded him from doing so, his appearance is stripped down to a very incidental flashback scene, yet his name still rides high in the opening credits. This is only the first disappointment that you will experience when it comes to The Wicker Tree.

It is essential to be fair and state that it is far from the worst horror movie you will see this year, as it has a certain amount of redeeming features. The problem is the unfortunate fact that it will always have to stand comparison to the original, a movie which has cemented itself as an indisputable classic.

One of the primary difficulties which The Wicker Tree stumbles to overcome is the overall tone of the movie. It can't seem to decide whether it's a knowing and acerbic in-joke, a serious thriller or a humorous homage to its predecessor. This is one of the main reasons that it fails to have any definite resonance with the viewer, although it doesn't make it difficult to watch. There are some beautifully composed shots of the unforgiving Scottish countryside and a particularly handsome raven, but there's so little going on under the surface that it quickly becomes the equivalent of a rushed meal at a fast food restaurant, complete with the subsequent guilt, nausea and comedown.

The American leads are satisfactory in that all they have to do is play vacuous Evangelist Christians, sent over on a mission to the remote Scottish village. The villagers are played for comic relief rather than any form or actual menace and so the inevitable 'scene' that we're all waiting for the entire movie is played out like a community centre theatrical production of The Wicker Man, only with a slightly bigger budget and more actors.

If you're a Hardy obsessive, by all means give it a shot. If you're unfamiliar with the movie's origins, you'll probably get a few laughs out of it, but that's hardly what one would expect when a story comes from such good original stock. A missed opportunity.

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Wicker basket case
tomsview22 June 2014
Did we really think writer/director Robin Hardy could better "The Wicker Man", that masterpiece of horror, which along with William Friedkin's "The Exorcist" defined the genre in the 1970's? It was a tall order, but he did come up with one surprise - he more or less repeated himself.

A couple of born-again Christians, 'Cowboys for Christ', Beth Boothby (Brittania Nicol) and Steve Thompson (Henry Garrett), cross the Atlantic on a mission to spread the Lord's word to the spiritually challenged flock in Scotland. After meeting a local laird, Sir Lachlan Morrison (Graham McTavish), they are directed to Tressock, a community that has an infertility problem caused by a leak from a nuclear power plant.

The innocent couple become central to the town's May Day festivities, involving human sacrifice to get the community's seed germinating again. All conspire against them except for Lolly (Honeysuckle Weeks), the head groom on Sir Lachlan's estate.

We know how it will end because there was no mercy for Edward Woodward in the first version so we don't expect any for Beth and Steve in this one.

The problem with knowing the basic premise is that the only tension comes in seeing how the ritual will be carried out. However, for some reason, Hardy holds back - we see nothing that compares to the anguish of Edward Woodward locked in his blazing wicker prison in the 1973 film. The Wicker Tree itself is an artistic looking number, but it doesn't project the menace of the giant wicker cage of the original.

Where the "The Wicker Tree" breaks from "The Wicker Man" is in the attempts at black humour; the naive Beth and Steve are treated as somewhat comic characters, as is Beame, Sir Lachlan's head man, who is involved in a number of jocular bits of business such as being stabbed up the kilt with a broken glass; it's hard to know quite how to take this movie as it changes mood at odd times.

The film doubles up on a couple of elements from the original, namely the number of sacrifices and the amount of nudity. Honeysuckle Weeks sheds her "Foyle's War" khakis and everything else for a couple of airy romps, including a brave effort in a chilly Scottish stream.

Although it's nice to see Christopher Lee back for a little homage, the biggest problem with "The Wicker Tree" is that it pays just too much homage to the original movie. The most important sacrifice of all would have entailed letting go of the old plot and heading off in a new direction.

Instead of a lop-sided remake, maybe a follow-up to the original would have been a better option - by 2011, the number of disappearances on Summerisle would have reached epic proportions with the supply of wicker also running dangerously low. At least that approach may have provided a few surprises.
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Oh dear !
LeeVanNero6 May 2012
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 !
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Eye-gougingly horrific...
Leofwine_draca22 May 2015
...and NOT in a good way. THE WICKER TREE is one of the most awful sequels in existence, a completely terrible movie made all the worse by the fact that THE WICKER MAN is one of the best British horror films in existence. I truly have no idea what Robin Hardy was thinking when he wrote and directed this; it looks like the man's talent left him many, many years ago.

This time around, the action is set on the Scottish mainland, where a couple of American evangelists have turned up to preach their usual guff to the residents of a village. The American characters are one of the worst things about this; the acting is horrendous and they're saddled with the kind of goofy charm of an American PIE movie, not a supposed horror movie like this. They're completely at odds with the rest of the production.

Elsewhere, the main thrust of the story of the first film is copied almost word for word, with a couple of (poor) twists to differentiate things. There's time for an extensive sub-plot to graphically portray what the "riding of the laddie" is all about, but I wonder why they bothered because it's hardly profound. Christopher Lee was meant to star in this but had to pull out due to ill health, with the reliable Graham McTavish (RAMBO) stepping in; Lee still appears but only in a brief greenscreen cameo. For once I'm glad he didn't appear for longer and debase himself with a leading role here.

Former child actress Honeysuckle Weeks turns up, unrecognisably aged and forced to strip for the majority of her running time; you have to feel for her that things have come to this. But it's the tone of THE WICKER TREE that is so very, very wrong; that a sequel to one of the classics of British CINEMA, let alone the horror genre, made by the same writer/director of all people, should totally miss the mark and become this kind of mess. All you can do is shake your head and cry.
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Sadly, a weak companion-piece to the seminal original film
Red-Barracuda4 April 2012
Warning: Spoilers
I think the thing that is most disappointing about The Wicker Tree is that it's taken such a long time to come to the screen. Its production spanned several years. The working title 'Cowboys for Christ' is actually quite an accurate description of the film so it seems that the basic idea has remained the same. In fact, it's based on a novel written by Robin Hardy, the director of the first movie The Wicker Man. I haven't read the book but I am very familiar with the original film which remains one of the best movies of the horror genre. The fact that Hardy announced that he would return to director duties and make a spiritual follow up to this seminal classic generated some anticipation. Sadly, the result is a far cry from the original and not a good film on its own right.

There are several problems with this production. The first one is that the story just isn't very good. Its plot trajectory is similar in some ways to The Wicker Man but only in the sense that you kind of know where this is going and it only serves to dispel any possible mystery and tension. In fact, generally speaking, this feature has almost no suspense at all. For some inexplicable reason it seems to have been played for laughs, except not very good laughs because I would hardly say this works as a comedy. At best it comes across like an episode of 'Monarch of the Glen' with some added nudity. It really is that bland unfortunately. It has all the atmosphere of a TV drama. Where the first movie had terrific music and a compelling mystery, this one has a dreary soundtrack and no intrigue. The horror side of the story is only half-heartedly introduced in the final reel. The wicker tree itself seems almost irrelevant while the murder scene is bizarrely underplayed – I mean a subtle depiction of cannibalism? Hmmm, okay.

Another key issue is the two leads. The two evangelical country and western singers are a dreadful couple of characters to base the story around. It feels like they were used in order to appeal to the American market. Whatever the case they are detrimental to the feel of the film and the actors playing them put in poor performances. They are not alone, however, as most of the cast are very below par; the one shining exception being the excellently named Honeysuckle Weeks who plays the nymph Lolly. She was in actual fact terrific and had a strong erotic presence throughout, her scene in the river being easily the best moment in the film and the only part that had any real zest about it. Honeysuckle was the only performer in this that you could imagine adding value to the first movie. The only actor to return is Christopher Lee but sadly he has no more than a brief cameo and unfortunately his scene doesn't really add up to much.

It's watchable. But it's dreary. And it feels massively like a missed opportunity. To expect The Wicker Man II is unrealistic but it isn't too much to have expected something with at least a bit of character. Other that Honeysuckle Weeks, there is sadly a short supply of that here.
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In the shadow of The Wicker Man
Yaaatoob28 August 2011
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.
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Sterile Sequel
Theo Robertson22 November 2014
I have never believed for a second that the 1973 film THE WICKER MAN is any type of cinematic masterpiece as some defenders claim . It suffers from a painfully ridiculous plot hole in its central premise . That said at least it has a plot . This 2011 " spiritual sequel " ( Whatever that can be defined as ) to the 1973 original doesn't have a plot

" You sure Theo ? I mean it seems stupid making a film and filling it with nothing happening "

Well who said anything has to happen in a film ? Well things do happen but they rarely make any sense . Let's also be brutally realistic and point out that films are simply made to make a profit for the company producing it and if Robin Hardy director of the original film says " Hey guys I've just made a sequel to my 1973 masterwork and Christopher Lee returns in it " you can guarantee some naïve fans are going to rush to the cinema to watch it only to realise their mistake after they've paid their money at the box office

What makes this film a fairly dreadful experience is the tone . A young Christian couple travel to Scotland to spread the word of the Lord . See what happens when you listen to Pat Robertson ? So they arrive in Scotland and find that when people have sex subtitles suddenly appear out of nowhere as do pagans and cannibals and jokes that fall as flat as a pancake . If you think a Scotsman in a kilt having his genitals damaged is the strong foundation of a running joke you might find this film amusing in some small way . I didn't

The visuals are also ill though out . Most of the look of the film resembles one of this television productions that ITV broadcast that again jars with the tone of what happens , much of which is crass and unpleasant . None of this is helped by the cast , many of who give the impression they're all appearing in entirely separate films . The worst performance comes from the delightfully named Britannia Nicol who is supposed to carry but would have difficulty in carrying a cup of coffee in to my living room . It's no surprise that she was never seen after this film . In fact neither was this film seen again after it made its limited release to the cinemas
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Wow, this was bitterly disappointing
ewanthejones10 May 2012
The Wicker Tree is more disappointing than I ever thought it could be. Terrible acting, clunky direction, naff music, unbelievable characters.

In the original, Howie's character was a believable, devout Christian - committed, horrified at Summerisle's pagan practices and living out a believable battle between his commitment to faith and all the temptations that Summerisle presents. In contrast, the Wicker Tree's Beth and Steve are shallow caricatures, lame stereotypes played for cheap laughs. Their mission to evangelise 'heathen Scotland' doesn't ring true. Relocating from a remote island to mainland UK removes any hint of genuine threat and isolation (you don't for one moment believe this place actually exists) and, given that Hardy is a Brit, that kind of lazy writing and directing is unforgivable. Clearly no research went in to trying to authentically present these places and characters - S+B's relationship is unconvincing from the first moment, their behaviour dubious, Beth's back-story is laughable and their methods of faith-sharing unconvincing guess work on Hardy's part. These things are also true of the characters' portrayal in Hardy's book (Cowboys for Christ) so it's no surprise that the film lazily regurgitates these errors. By the time their inevitable demise ensues, you've long ceased caring and you're just left hoping that the pay-off for these wretched cardboard cut-outs is worth it. It's not.

Clearly the Wicker Man is fantastical, but the joy and horror of it stems from the possibility that it could.. just be.. a true story. Tree, on the other hand, is like a poorly thought out play written by 15 year olds for a GCSE drama production. Everything that was bold, funny, scary, shocking and beautiful about the first film is (I assume unintentionally) mocked or (intentionally) rehashed. In 90 minutes there was one moving moment and only one genuinely (and intentionally) funny scene. Thematically, any attempt to comment on faith and religion, hope and virtue, sacrifice and naivete, love and death, nature and fear all go out of the window - if they were ever welcomed in to the room in the first place. The whole thing stinks. The music is tagged on, unmemorable and cringe-worthy. The comedy characters are woefully misjudged and their story arcs embarrassing. It doesn't matter how many breasts are thrust at the screen, there is zero erotic tension - Steve's temptation and subsequent actions are so ludicrous that Woodward would turn in his grave if he could see his character's virtues and struggles being so lazily lambasted.

Did I also mention: it's not at all scary. The Christopher Lee scene should have gone straight to the cutting room floor. The dialogue is naff. The acting is - for the most part and excluding Clive Russell - amateur. The rituals and rites of May Day and the Riding of the Laddie fail to engage or intimidate.

Pluses? The scenery is nice. The poster art is excellent. Nic Cage isn't in it - although I'd watch that sacrilegious Wicker Man remake 10 times before I ever sat down to watch this again. Why? because for other people to demonstrate sheer stupidity in tearing apart and misunderstanding the Wicker Man legend is one thing - for Robin Hardy to do it in such a cheap, tacky, boring, patronising way is something else entirely and he should be duly ashamed.

If you love the Wicker Man, curiosity will drive to you see this anyway - I'd be really interested to hear if people found it more bearable or less disappointing than I did. Am I being too harsh? Whatever - I won't be watching it again to find out.
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A waste of everyone's time...
natashabowiepinky1 December 2013
This film in a capsule.

First 60 minutes: Bad country singing. Lots of Bible bashing. Dodgy Scottish accents ahoy. Awful acting, even from the extras. Gratuitous nudity in a bed. Gratuitous nudity in a stream. A LOT of pointless talking. Christopher Lee in a blink-and-you'll-miss-it cameo. I'm sure there was more, but I must have nodded off.

Last 30 minutes: Hey-ho, things are looking up. A cat just drunk some poisoned milk. (sniff,sniff). And look, here's an American girl shoving a bit of broken glass up a Scotsman's kilt. Ho, ho. And there's her cowboy boyfriend, being devoured by a bunch of naked cannibals. FINGER LICK'IN GOOD!! And don't forget about the...

Oh, who am I trying to kid... it's just dreadful twaddle. It makes The Wicker Man from 1973 look like The Greatest Film Ever and the 2006 remake of that movie... well, let's not go crazy now... 3/10
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Tragically bad. Warning: Spoilers
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.
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The Wicker Tree (2010)
SnakesOnAnAfricanPlain4 February 2012
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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A cardboard cut-out of a movie with no sense of its own intention
Born again evangelist Beth Boothby (Brittania Nicol) and her cowboy partner Steve (Henry Garrett) travel to Scotland to teach the in-bred locals of Tresock, a small highland town with its own nuclear power station, about Jesus.

It's a dumb premise, made all the dumber by childish performances from the two lead roles. Boothby, some kind of internationally known singer with previous form as a Britney Spears-esque pop star comes across as simple minded and simpering, barely a rung or two above the intellectually challenged and self-professed 'dumb cowboy' Steve. Both have personalities as flat as Kansas. Their proselytising is irritating and their strangely forced Americanisms about as convincing as the notion of 21st century indigenous Scots as backwards sun-worshipping yokels.

The film yaws from scene to scene with no clear idea why or where it wants to go. Style is highly reminiscent of 80s film-making, replete with dodgy blurred fades to flashback and an overly-pronunciated script.

There are two highlights. One is Jacqueline Leonard as the lascivious lady of the manor. The age defying Leonard, better known for lending her beauty to British dramas like Morse, Peak Practise or Eastenders, seems to relish her role as the malevolent force in the Morrison household and sparkly eyed evil suits her well. Pity we don't see more of her on the big screen.

The second is Clive Russell as potty-mouthed Scottish butler, Beame, a great lumbering creature with an explosive temper, ridiculously huge in his kilt and pony-tail. Russell clearly knows he's gotten himself involved in a big pile of steaming haggis and plays for laughs from the off. Which is a good thing, because without that you have what amounts to a pretty unwatchable film.

I confess that I didn't make it to the end, losing interest with the clumsily produced finale at the castle. The horse was well and truly flogged and I'd seen more than enough.

One to avoid, unless you're a friend of the cast and crew or some kind of masochist for terrible movies.
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What is a wicker tree anyway?
richardduffy0925 April 2012
This is up there with the worst films ever made. Regardless of whether you are familiar with the original Wicker Man, this film should be avoided like the plague. The plot is paper thin and makes less and less sense as the film goes on. What is a wicker tree? Why a wicker tree? Who would ever build a tree out of wicker? Dubious wicker tree aside this unnecessary rehash of the themes of the seminal 1973 original is also tragically devoid of any of the elements that comprise either art or entertainment.

A failure to generate either atmosphere or audience engagement is aided by an apparent lack of understanding of pace or even basic plotting. The story instead relies on crude caricatures and facile humour more at home in a camp 60s sex comedy. All together it feels lazy and ill though out and it's difficult not to see this as a shameless cash in on the original's success. There are some creditable performances despite the weak source material and you may initially find yourself laughing at the broad innuendo. However you cannot help but realise after 30 minutes that you are making a big mistake by watching this film.

Overall it's extremely hard to care about a film that has seen such poor attention to basic detail. Fans may be tempted to watch this based on their admiration for the original. Please don't.
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It's OK to laugh!
reachjessewatson20 July 2011
Saw the world premiere of The Wicker Tree @ Fantasia Film Fest 2011 in Montreal with Robin Hardy in attendance (he actually sat about 6 seats away). I have not seen The Wicker Man and therefore did not know what to expect other than some paganism. Just before the movie started Hardy gave a little primer on the movie and ended by saying "It's OK to laugh!", which was the last thing I expected. Once the movie started I realized why he mentioned this, the movie is rife with black humour and tongue-in- cheek lines about Christianity and more specifically the ignorance of "born again" Christians. There was still some much welcomed blood, sex and general weirdness which, coupled with the constant dark humour, made for a surprisingly (to me) great movie experience. You definitely do not have to have seen The Wicker Man to enjoy this movie. All around great acting, great story, great directing and a great no-loose-ends finish. Definitely recommend this to both Wicker Man fans and newcomers alike.

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An utter but not entirely unexpected disappointment
t_atzmueller27 January 2014
Warning: Spoilers
This Film has been sitting on my shelf for almost two years, and I have been reluctant to watch it until a few days ago. The reason: The original "The Wicker Man" counts among my favorite films. Sure, occasionally I give the tepid Remake with Nicolas Cage a gander, just out of glee or what in German is called "Schadenfreude". But "The Wicker Tree" was the real deal, a sequel in spirit, filmed by the original director Robin Hardy and claiming a cameo appearance by Sir Christopher Lee.

Even the hardened Fans must admit that "The Wicker Man" was a great film not because of Hardys skill as a director, but despite of them. "The Wicker Tree" was bad – not as in "so bad it is good", like the remake, but bad as in pointless. It is a virtual retelling of the original story without any of the elements that made the original great. The amazing music, the quirky characters, the foreboding atmosphere, last but not least the eroticism – none of it has made it into this film. Let's start off with the protagonists: where Officer Howie had a naivety about him that made his character amiable, we get two bible-thumbing trailer-trash bumpkins that are about as uncharismatic and non-likable as they come. Anybody who has ever travelled south of St. Louis will probably know that kind of people and will agree: these people are more annoying that Jehovah Witnesses on a field-trip. But director Hardy paints them so unsympathetic, it's almost embarrassing. One almost couldn't wait until they would cart them off to the Wicker Man (in this case a Wicker Tree) – and here comes the major letdown and spoiler: the "heroine" actually survives the movie.

The second reason for watching "The Wicker Tree" despite low expectations and better knowledge was that I'm a devoted Sir Christopher Lee fan and a completist in that regard. Supposedly Sir Christopher's guest-role should have been a little longer but apparently ill health prevented that. The cameo lasts by my estimation a little less than a minute (I didn't time it though) and adds absolutely nothing to the story. To mind sprang Oliver Reeds cameo appearance in Ken Russells "Lisztomania" (Reed walks in through one door and Reed exits through another door).

To summon up the review in two words: utter disappointment. A fellow reviewer has ended his report such: "Fans may be tempted to watch this based on their admiration for the original. Please don't." I can only add that I've watched "The Wicker Tree" based on my admiration for the original and can do nothing but pass on the warning.

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A failure on all grounds
TdSmth530 June 2013
A Christian country singer and her cowboy boyfriend go on an evangelizing mission to Scotland. They abstain from sex until they are married. They end up in some country small town run by a rich couple who own the local nuclear plant. The town's inhabitants are pagans who worship a variety of gods and the sun. But the rich couple sponsor concerts which gives our country couple the chance to sell their religion. And the town goes along with it.

Strangely, there are almost no kids in the town. One friendly local lady is desperately trying to get pregnant by the local cop. She also ends up seducing the cowboy.

May Day is also approaching and our singer is elected May Queen and the cowboy her Laddie. But we get hints that something isn't right in this town. For some reason that isn't clear, the singer is almost poisoned by the butler. Since that doesn't work, he ends up drugging her and preparing her body in oils for some purpose which we discover later but that doesn't make a whole lot of sense either. At least the surprising fate of the cowboy is explained a bit better.

The Wicker Tree oddly doesn't manage to capture the strangeness of the pagan towns people at all. And there is no sense of the dread in the least. The movie doesn't know how to generate any excitement or build- up toward the resolution. Our country couple is too goofy to be taken serious. He's the kind of cowboy who sleeps with his cowboy hat on. She doesn't contribute much to the story except for songs and innocence. And there are a lot of songs in this movie. Most are actually pleasant even though I despise anything that resembles a musical. In one of the few smart lines in the movie she asks the pagans if they don't have a song for what just happened. If you want to make a movie like this you can't just settle for lameness and mediocrity. The themes are interesting and suited for something edgier, darker. If anything it's an opportunity to make a unique stronger movie.
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rmax30482318 October 2013
This remake of "The Wicker Man" is not to be dismissed lightly. It is to be violently repelled and thrown away with great force.

Nobody can act. The idea was ripped off from a superb movie and then raped and pillaged. The young woman, Brittany Murphy, does her best to imitate Brittny Spears and fails miserably, probably because Spears is -- or was -- a nonpareil of vulgar celebrity, until replaced by Lady Gaga who is in turn being replaced in the public ardor by Miley Cyrus, who achieves imitation simply by sticking her tongue out and wiggling her ass.

Please. Please -- see the original "The Wicker Man".
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The Wicker Tree - Horror or Comedy ? .. Fails at both I'm afraid
wadetalon28 October 2011
Warning: Spoilers
I saw this movie last night , it was shown as part of the annual Dublin Horrorthon here in Ireland. I have seen the original movie starring Christopher Lee and Edward Woodward, and this film is being promoted as the official sequel to that film.

Now Lee does show up in this film , in a very very short flash back sequence but that is as far as his involvement in this movie goes. But obviously the film makers wish to cash in on the gravitas his name brings and have him as top billing. Apart from this brief injection of class and excellence this film is just utter drivel. I don't know what route the director wanted to originally take with this piece, but 80% plays out like its trying to be a comedy and it fails miserably , then when the eventual climax comes it give horror a go and then fails at that as well.

The two main characters are a pair of young Americans from Texas, The Girl is a Britney Spearseque character who has shunned her dirty pop image of singing about sex in pick up trucks and is now on her Jesus Christ around the world tour. She is joined on her adventure by her Cowboy Fiancé (who wears the ugliest cowboy hat in the history of cowboy hats). These are two of the Dumbest characters that have ever graced the cinema screen. The first 3/4s of the film is pretty much a comedy of errors about these two out of towners trying to convert a small band of "heathens" who live in the village of Tressock. Which we are informed by on screen titles and I'm not kidding it actually says the following "Scotland - On the Borders of England" , Really ? wow, cheers for that geography lesson.

The plot meanders along unconvincingly till we reach the pointless and laughable climax. The credits roll and everyone in the cinema is asking the same thing, "What the hell did we just watch?" . This is a badly acted , and ill conceived movie. I would rather sit through Nicholas Cage's version of the Wicker Man twice over and countless Head boxes filled with bees than watch this drivel again. avoid like the plague.
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Soooooo many harsh reviews!!!
Wikkid_Gamez29 August 2019
I have no idea why it is so harshly received by fans of The Wicker Man. It contains many direct parallels and allusions to the 1973 film, which was also directed by Hardy, and is intended as a companion piece which explores the same themes. Not as a sequel or an attempt to outdo the first movie!

I personally enjoyed it. The acting was on point, yes it was a slow build up and all of the action was in the last 20 mins or so. But I found the movie enjoyable and I am glad that I did not let the rating detour me from giving it a chance. I loved the musical score and the cinematography was quite good.

Its just a shame that it was so harshly picked apart and underrated just because people assume its supposed to be like a remake or something. Which it is not. It should be rated of it's own accord and just taken as it is, another chapter so to speak of the same theme. If you liked The Wicker Man and are open enough to not be comparing the two as though they were competing, but as a next chapter in the story then you may actually end up enjoying it as well.
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A Disappointing "Wicker Man" Story
gavin694218 April 2012
Charmed by the residents of Tressock, Scotland, two young missionaries accept the invitation to participate in a local festival, fully unaware of the consequences of their decision.

Newcomer Brittania Nicol leads the story as a Christian pop singer with a less than savory past. Her singing is decent, though perhaps played up too much, and her acting is adequate. I did not have so much problem with her as I did with her character, Beth Boolsby.

The film's two main characters are about as one-dimensional as could be, two born again Christians who mention the Bible and God every chance they get. They also have a streak of hypocrisy. Was the message of this film anti-Christian? Or just against shallow Christians? It seems the enemy was too weak to be interesting.

Christopher Lee was said to have a much bigger role prior to injuring himself filming "The Resident" (a great film, by the way). He still sneaks in as a cameo, and while it hardly satisfies my need for Lee, it is better to have him briefly than not at all. He is this film's one saving grace.

I wish I did not have to knock this movie and give it such a poor review, as I greatly admire writer and director Robin Hardy. It goes without saying that his original "Wicker Man" is a cult classic in the top ranks of horror films. I would love to know what possessed him to make this film. He covers no new ground, and explores the same territory poorly. I do not want to say that it is worse than Nicolas Cage's "Wicker Man", but it is hardly much better.
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Yes, directors do indeed need writers.
MBunge11 May 2013
Warning: Spoilers
The worst thing about The Wicker Tree is that it's not even the worst attempt at exploiting the original horror classic. The remake of The Wicker Man starring Nicholas Cage is at least so awesomely point-and-laugh terrible that you can enjoy mocking it. This thing is merely another lame horror flick to throw on the ever-growing pile. Robin Hardy turns in a thoroughly pedestrian job as a director but came up with a stupid, shallow and simplistic script that works best as an unintentional love letter to Anthony Shaffer, writer of the first film. I hate to put it this way but The Wicker Tree looks, sounds and feels like the work of an old man who is well past his creative prime and no one had the decency to tell him. If this move had failed spectacularly, you could credit Hardy with perhaps trying to be bold and imaginative. As it is, it's hard to view this as anything more that a much delayed cash grab.

Beth Boothby (Brittania Nicol) is a Christian country singer who, along with her cowboy fiancée Steve (Henry Garrett), travels from Texas to Scotland as a missionary to revive the faith of a small village. Let me stop right here and point something out because I think it gets at the heart of what's wrong with this film. Hardy was bright enough to realize that England has become such a religiously neutered society that he would have to go far afield to find representatives of Christianity to square off against the forces of paganism. However, he didn't bother to think about how that kind of cultural shift would affect anything else. Paganism in a post-Christian 21st century should not be at all the same thing as during the 1970s when church-going was still part of the established order of life in the UK.

Let me draw an analogy. Organized crime still exists in America but is, by all accounts, a shell of what is once was. If you made a movie about the Mafia today which didn't acknowledge that reality, that portrayed the Mob as the same sort of pervasive and powerful force it was in the 70s or during Prohibition, you'd end up with a silly and contrived bit of nonsense. Tony Soprano could not be Michael Corleone. Yet, other than bringing in Yanks as his designated Christian victims, Hardy didn't put any thought at all into how the passing of time and cultural and economic changes would require re-imagining the Wicker Man story.

The whole of The Wicker Tree is a constant reminder that Hardy didn't think things through when he wrote this screenplay. I mean, the original was set on an island that was physically cut off from civilization. That's the sort of detail that helps the viewer suspend disbelief and accept a pagan cult surviving in secrecy. The Wicker Tree not only takes place on the mainland, it's set in a village near a nuclear power plant. There's nothing isolated or secluded about such a location that would make avoiding public scrutiny easy. And while the original Wicker Man left open the question of what happens after the human sacrifice of a police officer and even hints that things aren't going to turn out well for the murderous cult, this flick ends with an epilogue that expects us to believe that not only can a minor celebrity vanish from a Scottish village with no one caring but that the gruesome death of the founder and leader of the cult would have absolutely no effect on anything. Oh, and it expects you to believe that a human being exposed to flame burns like gas-soaked tissue paper.

Anyway, Beth and Steve arrive in Scotland. The pagan villagers want to kill them. They do. The end. Believe me, I put as much thought into those four sentences and Hardy did with this script.

Topping it all is that while the original seemed like its pagan cult was at least based on some real and coherent religion, The evil faith in The Wicker Tree appears to be nothing more than horror movie tripe that Hardy just pulled out of his butt. I'm no expert and maybe it is drawn from historical truth, but it's presented so poorly and idiotically that it comes off like made up crap.

Now, Honeysuckle Weeks does take her top off and there a good bit of nudity at the end but it is mostly of the real world nudist variety where you kind of wish the folks had kept their clothes on. There isn't anything that's even inadvertently worth seeing here. Watch the original. Watch the remake and turn its awfulness into a drinking game with your friends. Don't waste your time on The Wicker Tree.
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Robin Hardy is a terrible writer and Director
robertasmith30 April 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Put simply, this film is rubbish and that is why it has gone straight to video.

The story is hackneyed, the acting poor and the direction atrocious. If this is supposed to be a serious story, why has Hardy written in a comedy Scottish butler? Clive Russell is fantastic but the role does not fit the film. Honeysuckle Weekes is convincing but is let down by a disjointed story that just does not make sense. The genuinely funny moments all come from Beame the Butler, and the serious moments through Weekes. The rest is just badly acted by some fine thespians who are not best served by Robin Hardy who should stop writing, and should never direct again.

This film only exists because the Wicker Man became a cult film. However, if you view that film in it's many versions, it is not as good as it could be, which is probably why it is surrounded in mystique. The current offering has none of that mystique and should be viewed as a curiosity, pressing the pause button as often as possible to make tea or something stronger.

I am struggling to say anything positive about this film. I was expecting an average film but this is just so bad I am generous in giving a score of 1. So here is the spoiler - the cook tending Beames slashed goolies is a fine film comedy moment. Pity the film isn't a comedy.
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Weak and utterly inferior sequel effort
kannibalcorpsegrinder31 August 2012
Agreeing to travel to Scotland on a missionary trip, a Christian couple finds that their host family is part of a clan that practices Pagan rituals and worship that are intending on using them for one of their next ceremonies forcing them to fight them off in order to escape alive.

This here was a really poor and rather frustrating sequel that doesn't really have as much going for it as its predecessor. One of the film's main flaws is the fact it seems quite scattershot in its approach with the inherent inability to really get itself in a groove as to where it wants to go. This is due to several factors here that come from a wide range of sources within the film, whether this is about the pagan society or the different customs on the island corrupting the couple. Both of these elements are explored here and it's rather frustrating to get tied up in nonsensical discussions about the blame for their situation since this one places either scenario as a possible culprit. The one explanation given isn't anything to really get worked up over, either, as it's just plain idiotic, as the implication that the power plant run-off is directly responsible for their condition and thus requires the sacrificial ceremony take place using them is not only an incredibly ludicrous jump of logic to make but also seems to fly in the face of what happen before, though even taking it on its own terms it's not that great and takes away from the films' connection to the original as well. This makes the film wander around a lot in the first hour and showing them experiencing the different ways of life there or showcasing how the locals live, never once preparing for the ceremony, what exactly it entails or why the whole affair is to go down that makes this one so dull and boring by not having anything going on. It'd mean one thing if that set-up anything later on when they finally get to the ceremony to have some horror elements featured before to get this going, yet there's nothing like that attempted here. While these here are what keep this one down, there's are a few positives featured here as despite being bogged down with a dreary pace, that really only gets interrupted in the final minutes which has some of the best features where it's all kinds of suspenseful action from the horse chase through the countryside that goes concurrently with her struggles against the family henchmen's attempts to grab her for their ceremonial preparations that are far creepier than expected here as the villagers' strange antics chasing after her and then preparing for the big conflagration at the castle as well as the darker twist at the end. However, for the most part, this only has bounteous nudity to get it going, leaving this one a colossal disappointment.

Rated R: Full Nudity, Graphic Language, Violence and a sex scene.
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What a disappointment!
mmillington5545 June 2012
This is a film that should never have been made. The narrative is preposterous, the horror scenes are laughable, the religious content is ridiculous, and the characters are unbelievable. The sex scenes are easily the most convincing part of the film. Henry Garrett does a very erotic strip at the side of a lake which I enjoyed very much! Doubtless, Honeysuckle Weeks' alluring nakedness will have a similar effect on those with other orientations. The underlying eroticism of the original The Wicker Man is reproduced here and updated for contemporary times. The rest of the film left me with the feeling that a great violation had been committed to the original. If The Wicker Tree is to be watched at all in future times it will be for all the wrong reasons - it's so bad it's likely to become a cult classic.
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Such potential all hacked up
wiccan-361-212414 May 2012
I'm not usually the type to scathe a film the first time I watch it, but this is a genuine exception.

I cant help but feel like the story line had such potential and the characters could have been fantastic, but somewhere along the line it fell apart.

I could see snippets in the move of where it should have gone and how much potential the film had. I felt the acting was acceptable for the most part, but the rest was a hacked up mess that barely made any sense.

I suspect that someone got hold of the script before the film was make and hacked it up, then after the whole thing was shot cut out a bunch more.

Such potential all hacked up
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