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DVD: The Wicker Man/The Wicker Tree | reviews, news & interviews

DVD: The Wicker Man/The Wicker Tree

DVD: The Wicker Man/The Wicker Tree

Robin Hardy's recent sequel to his classic is just about watchable tosh

May queen Brittania Nicol gets into the spirit of things in 'The Wicker Tree'

The Wicker Man is a great British film, one of the top horror films of all time. Since its release in 1973, its curious combination of queasily jolly folkloric ritual and sinister paganism has only grown to seem more discomfiting, reeking of the uncanny, and flavouring new films as recently as the extraordinary Kill List.

I propose, then, to assume The Wicker Man is 5/5 smash - if you haven’t seen it, you should do so at once - but this review will deal with the other film in a new DVD set, Wicker Man director Robin Hardy’s 2010 sequel, the far less well-known The Wicker Tree.

The plot has a squeaky clean young Texas evangelical couple - hunky cowboy Steve (Henry Garrett) and successful Christian country singer Beth (Brittania Nicol) - heading to Scotland to save the locals from sin. Persuaded by nuclear plant-owning local lord, Sir Lachlan Morrison (Graham McTavish) and his wife Delia (Jaqueline Leonard) to join them at their village of Tressock, the American pair soon find they’ve agreed to play the roles of “Laddie” and May Queen at a rustic annual celebration. Anyone with a passing knowledge of the cinematic territory will realise this cannot end well.

Things start off clunkily as the acting is wooden and the self-conscious adherence to the earlier film rather trite but, once the hapless Americans are ensconced in Tressock, the film settles, Hardy reminds us of the way folk music can create a chill and Beth, an apple-cheeked Miley Cyrus sort, is suitably naïve and gushing. BBC TV regular Honeysuckle Weeks is also on hand, almost always with her clothes missing, to emulate the Britt Ekland role from the 1973 film of dangerous local siren. It seems for about half an hour that the film is going to be a decent enough addendum to its predecessor's myth but, as it enters its third act, the plot gradually collapses under the weight of its various central premises, and the Morrisons’ servants, a supposedly comic Sweeney McTodd duo charged with overseeing Beth’s fate, add badly judged slapstick to the proceedings. Even a short cameo flashback appearance by Sir Christopher Lee, The Wicker Man’s original laird cannot save the day.

All that said, for those who enjoy catching iffy old Hammer horrors on the telly, not the classics but the also-ran fare, The Wicker Tree is palatable enough, a low-calorie tribute to a masterpiece.

Watch the trailer for The Wicker Tree

Honeysuckle Weeks is on hand, almost always with her clothes missing, to emulate the Britt Ekland role of dangerous local siren


Editor Rating: 
Average: 2 (1 vote)

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