, Port Arthur, Texas

September 5, 2006

So bad it’s scary

The Movie Guy

Sean McBride

Nicolas Cage’s latest movie, “The Wicker Man,” sounds great in theory. It has a creepy-cool trailer, a solid horror-movie pedigree and a well-respected director in the form of Neil LaBute. It’s an intriguing cinematic combination, but one that doesn’t come close to working.

“The Wicker Man” turns out to be one of the most laughably bad films of the year and an early candidate to sweep the Razzie Awards.

Cage plays Edward Malus, a traumatized motorcycle cop who’s asked to help find a missing child. Malus makes his way to a mysterious island where the women all seem to be hiding something. The outsider policeman is undaunted; his investigation uncovers a sinister world, one that ultimately brings him to a final rendezvous with “The Wicker Man.”

Just who, or what is The Wicker Man? That’s the film’s big secret that I won’t spoil here, although I suspect that enough people are familiar with the original 1973 movie to have at least a vague idea of where the film is going. If not, may I suggest that you go rent the original film, as it is far superior to this ill-conceived remake.

The original film has the always-reliable Edward Woodward in the lead role and features Christopher Lee hamming it up and Britt Eckland stripping down to give the film some sexy buzz. This latest version puts Cage into a bear costume and Ellen Burstyn in a rejected “Braveheart” makeup job. The original film had an ending that left audiences stunned. The only thing stunning about this new version is the laughably bad acting by Nic Cage.

I’ll admit that Cage deserves a pat on the back for consistently accepting these weird little movies. Even when they’re as bad as “The Wicker Man,” they’re still audaciously watchable. But the bottom line is that “The Wicker Man” is so oddball that it stops being scary. You know that you’re in trouble when the audience laughs out loud at some of the dramatic lines and situations. That’s a bad sign, which makes sense because “Wicker Man” is so bad that it’s scary.

Movie reviews by Sean, “The Movie Guy,” are published Wednesdays and Fridays in “The Port Arthur News.” He can be found weekly on KAVU-TV and KOLE and KVIC Radio. Additional reviews can be found at, or at Sean welcomes your comments via e-mail at