Better than the Real Thing: The Wicker Man (2006)

Sometimes, watching the trailer is better than the real thing. Within two minutes, some previews get you so excited for a movie that you count down the days until it’s released in the theater and then immediately buy a ticket for the day it comes out. After that? Disappointment, generally.

Neil LaBute’s The Wicker Man may be the most watchable movie of 2006. It’s awful and messy, but like a train wreck or car crash, it’s impossible to look away. The story is this: Nicolas Cage is a police officer who gets a mysterious note from his former lover who informs him that she had a child, moved to a women-only commune on a remote island, and now said daughter has gone missing and she wants the Cage to investigate. It’s quite the letter.

So Cage goes to the island and all sorts of eerie things start happening, like when he goes to the inn and is perplexed about the innkeeper’s gender.

Anyway, let’s check out the trailer, which makes the film look like it’s going to be a semi-decent thriller.

It’s solid enough right? Sure there are a couple of weak moments in the trailer, but it finishes pretty nicely with a bunch of cuts that depict demonic scenes, Cage running frantically, and that haunting whisper of “Daddy.” Oh, and that quick shot of the smiling girl with bees covering her face. That’s the stuff of nightmares. It’s funny then, that the film turned out to be filled with scenes like this:

Or my favorite, for sheer ridiculousness:

Wow. Just wow.

For moviegoers who went in to the film expecting a formulaic, though probably effective, supernatural thriller,they instead watched an unintentionally funny cult classic. The last 15 minutes alone provide more laughs than some 90-minute comedies do. I like to imagine that the pitch went something along the lines of this:

Producer: Look, we’ll get Nic Cage and put him in a bear suit. And then he’ll punch somebody. It’ll cost about $3o million.

Studio Head: Sold!

The Wicker Man trailer: 6/10

The Wicker Man movie: 3/10 (or an ironic 8/10)

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