The Wicker Man Review
|Figure 1: Film Poster|
The Wicker Man is a 1973 horror film, directed by Robin Hardy. It is about a police officer who is investigating the case of a missing girl on a strange island full of strange people who practise pagan rituals, and ultimately finds himself to be misled, and becomes a sacrifice to the Pagan Gods.
“The Wicker Man's genre-bending, thematic daring, and tortuous history have made it the U.K.'s definitive cult movie.” (Fuller, 2006) As recognised by Fuller, the genre seems to shift throughout the film, firstly we have a comedic style with a sense of creepiness, with the only seriousness being that of the little girl being missing. As we continue through the film, we see more odd rituals, such as the naked women dancing in a circle, and the film becomes creepy and we begin to see that there is something wrong. As we near the end of the film, and by then the audience is as aware of there being something wrong as the main character, we are introduced to the festival. Everybody wears disguises, and the camera dances around the masked people, giving a slightly sadistic atmosphere. The main character is dressed as a frightening clown, perhaps to evoke nightmarish childhood fears in the audience, and say that although despite the music and the festival, something bad will take place. The genre shifts again in the last 10 minutes, when it is revealed that he is to be the sacrifice. We see this colossal looming wicker man, and it is made apparent to us that he will be burnt alive. We hear his screams and see his terrified face, and all of a sudden it seems as though we are watching a different film. It is hard to watch as we are being led with him to his death, and it feels so out of place contrasted to the upbeat music and dancing around him.
|Figure 2: Film Still|
There are many shots conveying phallic symbols, for example oddly shaped bushes, and the maypole, directly associated in the film with a man’s penis, as the school children were being taught. There are many sexual references, from direct nudity to subtler hints.
“A truly unique horror movie, one of the odd handful throughout history that doesn't really seem to have been influenced by anything and has no obvious heirs, not even its own remake.” (Brayton, 2012)
As Brayton says in this quote, it is a truly unique horror film. It is not apparent that it is a horror film at first, but that adds to the terror, and gives the impression that in real life any situation could turn into a horror filled one. It is not like other horror films, which have serial killers and gore, or paranormal horrors. It is a slow building horror, with the horror deriving from a town of religious people. Maybe the fact that it all stems from a religious nature is a comment about how far people go for their religion, as stated by Smith, “The Wicker Man is, more than anything else, a film about what people can do in the name of religion or, more generally, belief. Its power comes not from appeals to the supernatural but from a deep understanding of our own undeniable nature.” (Smith, 2007)
|Figure 3: Film Still|