The Wicker Man (1973)

The Wicker Man

The Wicker Man Review

The Wicker Man is a 1973 British mystery horror film directed by Robin Hardy and starring Edward Woodward and Christopher Lee.  It is one of the most well regarded horror pictures of the decade and for all the good reasons as it truly is fascinating.

It follows a police detective who arrives on an isolated island to search for a missing girl only to find out that the island is inhabited by strange people who practice Paganism. It is such an evidently unique take on the horror genre with an authentic setting and a weird, but refreshingly different storyline.  I liked almost everything about it in terms of storytelling and it is such a well crafted movie that is always riveting to follow. The first act is such a good set-up, the second act is a great mystery and the third act is a pure, shocking horror that works so incredibly well. The whole film works wonderfully as both a horror or thriller and as a mystery. It also has such an interesting and rare, but definitely apparent humor, the sort of dark humor that was really pleasant and weird.

The character development is good for a horror flick. Our policeman protagonist is a superb character and so well realized and grounded in his depiction and relatable as well. His facial expressions are priceless and so comedic whereas his conflict with these crazy lunatics is greatly established and so dramatic. All of the island inhabitants are well realized and memorable, they aren’t that well developed because of a lack of bigger screen time, but they are still well presented. And the acting is phenomenal with all of the actors doing a superb job with Edward Woodward being the highlight. He sometimes went into an unfortunate over-the-top territory, but he was for the most part really good.

It is a thematically interesting movie that puts a civilized Christian who is also a typical, well mannered Englishman against the morally decayed, crazy and just plainly odd Pagans. That conflict was so entertaining and dramatic even though the movie was too religious at times with an overreliance on the Christianity aspect of it. But I did like the inner conflict of the main character when presented a sexual opportunity and it was all done in such a sophisticated and visually astonishing way.

The Wicker Man is a visual feast with great imagery and good cinematography. It is also very well directed and superbly paced with not a single wasted scene. It has a decidedly slower pace that may be off-putting to some, but I enjoyed that immensely as I found it suitable for the movie’s mysterious side. The dialogue is fantastic as is the acting. The score is excellent, but is still one of the biggest flaws in the film. It has too many songs in my opinion and that was distracting a bit. It certainly creates that surreal feel to it, but there was still way too much of it. But the movie has such a realistic approach and is stupendously memorable in the long run. The tone is great and the film is so unpredictable with such a crazy, dramatic ending that is simply unforgettable.
The movie isn’t much of a horror and some may call it more of a thriller. Yes, it only has that horrific ending, but I disagree that the entire movie isn’t scary. To me it was at times a bit weird and unpleasant and those are the best qualities to look for in a horror picture which is why this flick manages to be a great example of a classic and smart horror movie done right. It has that superb feel to it that is so odd and crazy that you feel unease almost throughout its whole running time due to that great atmosphere. It surely is one of the best horror films of the seventies and it deserves its revered status for sure.

The Wicker Man is a great horror film that makes great use of its authentic setting and a phenomenal conflict at the center of the story that is so unique, unforgettable and even fascinating. It has too many songs in it, but it is still so well paced, so dramatic and horrific and so incredibly sophisticated and fueled with a superb feel of unease, craziness and weirdness.

My Rating – 4.5

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      Interior & Exterior Stills from The Wicker Man

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