The Wicker Man - Preview
Preview by Jack Foley
ACCLAIMED director Neil LaBute has faced a lot of criticism for deciding to remake The Wicker Man – but he might just have the last laugh if the creepy trailer is anything to go by.
The film stars Nicolas Cage as a sheriff investigating the disappearance of a young girl on a remote island off the coast of Maine. But as with the original, his hopes of unraveling the girl’s disappearance become increasingly uncertain when he discovers evidence of pagan rituals.
The original film, directed by Robin Hardy and starring Edward Woodward and Ingrid Pitt, was recently voted the greatest cult movie of all time and it certainly boasts one of the most enduring conclusions.
But fans of the original have been quick to chastise the decision to remake it, citing past American imitations of former British classics such as Alfie, The Italian Job and Get Carter.
LaBute is, however, a talented artist in his own right, as both a playwright, director and screenwriter. Past successes have included The Shape of Things and Some Girl(s) and there are many who believe he has something distinctive to bring to this re-telling.
In defending his decision to rejig it, the director explained: “I always loved the opriginal movie and I loved the script in particular, but I never thought that it was completed so well that it couldn’t be touched again.”
One of the most prominent changes revealed so far is that Christopher Lee’s character, Lord Summerisle, has been turned into a woman played by Ellen Burstyn, who is now the head of a matriarchal society.
The location has also been swapped from the UK to Maine (filming took place in Vancouver).
In spite of LaBute’s credentials, however, original director Hardy has taken out legal proceedings to ensure that his name remains distanced from the Hollywood version, while former star, Ingrid Pitt, is quoted as saying: “I can’t stand the idea of a new version it. I won’t be seeing it. I think it’s a crime.”
Originally released in 1973, The Wicker Man was hated by the studio that backed it and was fortunate to get a release. It eventually emerged as a B-movie supporting Nicolas Roeg’s thriller Don’t Look Now, but word-of-mouth interest made it a sleeper hit.
Whether LaBute’s version can reach similar cult status remains to be seen – but it boasts a strong cast and the trailer is certainly creepy enough to suggest that it may still terrify a new generation of audiences once again.
It opens in the UK on September 1.
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