The Wicker Man
What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that the plot sets up an agrarian cult of women who sacrifice humans and animals to a "fertility goddess." The eventual sacrifice is harrowing, as the victim is dragged, beaten, tied up, and burned to death (this scene is potentially scary for kids, as it uses sounds and blackouts). The film begins with a violent accident, in which a car with a mother and child inside is slammed by a truck and catches fire; this scene repeats as the witness/cop suffers flashbacks throughout the film. Island women menace the cop, who responds by pulling his gun and eventually fighting them physically. The cop discovers a dead body with bloody eyes (in close-up). Several tense scenes and arguments. One f-word; assorted other profanities.
What's the story?
Neil LaBute's remake of a 1973 cult favorite begins as California traffic cop Edward Malus (Nicolas Cage) tries to help a woman and her young blond daughter on the highway, only to see them smashed and burned in a terrible car accident. Traumatized, he suffers nightmares and an unidentified nervous condition for which he takes prescription pills; this makes him ill-equipped to deal with a new case, namely, the missing daughter of his ex-fiancée, Willow (Kate Beahan). Yet, he finds a way to the isolated island where she lives among a community of bee-keeping women led by Sister Summersisle (Ellen Burstyn) and endeavors to locate little Rowan (Erika-Shaye Gair).
Is it any good?
THE WICKER MAN might best be described as one man's hysteria. Edward means well, insisting that he wants to "help people." But his efforts only lead him into trouble with a cult of malevolent women who outsmart him at every turn. With a softness that is both emotional and physical (he's allergic to bees, and rendered unconscious more than once), Edward is increasingly afraid and chaotic in his affect and appearance. But he's stuck, an unusual man forced to be usual (his last ditch efforts to fight the women physically are so overstated that they seem comic). Although he's initially a sensitive man who wants to be heroic, Edward is stuck inside a retro gender dynamic: evil women versus inept men.
Deducing that Rowan has been kidnapped and will be sacrificed at an upcoming fertility ritual, he makes a series of predictable choices, bicycling heroically from site to site in search of evidence, but, as he puts it, "Every time I turn my head, there's something that doesn't make any sense." Exactly.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about the functions of cults in popular culture. How is Edward an ideal victim for this group, as he wants to "help people"? Why might it be significant that the women are associated with "fertility"? Why are horror movies so popular in general?