Nearly 40 years on, The Wicker Man has finally branched into a franchise with sort-of sequel The Wicker Tree.
Introducing his follow-up to the 1973 classic, writer/director Robin Hardy told FrightFesters not to expect “a conventional horror film”.
Sadly, he was on the mark insofar as Tree isn’t a scary movie.
It’s closer, in fact, to the 2006 Nic Cage debacle; albeit less funny, for all its attempts to find the fun in fundamentalism.
This time out, instead of Edward Woodward’s devout copper, we have Britannia Nicol’s devout pop idol Beth, a US country warbler intent on spreading the good word among “the lost people of Scotland”.
She’s accompanied on her mission by cowboy-hatted fiancé Steve (Henry Garrett), who’s first to discover the locals’ strange sense of hospitality.
Adapting his own novel Cowboys For Christ, Hardy pitches the tone broad from the off.
Every now and then he lands a laugh – a subtitled sex scene; a pop video hinting at Beth’s less than lily-white past.
But the giggles aren’t big or frequent enough to distract from the near-absence of momentum or intrigue; where many a horror sequel (Gremlins 2, Evil Dead 2) has pulled off self-parody, this one is more self-defeating.
A brief, flashback-framed cameo from Christopher Lee adds much-needed gravitas, while the climax – inevitably involving another burning effigy – finally sparks up a memorable image or two.
Alas, it’s too little, too late – unlike the original, this Wicker Tree has little chance of growing into a cult.
Agree? Or did it re-light your fire? Comment below...