The Wicker Tree


Robin Hardy’s half-sequel fails to rouse the rite stuff.

"Do you believe in angels?” asks a dim-bulb Bible-basher in this semi-sequel to the original The Wicker Man.

Alas, winged cherubs seem plausible next to writer/director Robin Hardy’s revisit to, if not Summerisle per se, then to its pagan turf of fertility rites and ley-line shagfests.

Where 1973’s cult classic balanced black comedy, unease and primal fear, Hardy now rams his tongue in cheek, wilts before the challenge of matching the original’s wallop and delivers, essentially, an extended admission of defeat.

His satirical aim is clear but his targets are broad, his tools blunt. Replacing Edward Woodward’s Sgt Howie, the lambs to the slaughter are Texas believers Steve (Henry Garrett) and Beth (Brittania Nicol), visiting Scotland to spread God’s word.

Alas, as Beth can’t even use a remote control to turn off TV footage of her pre-God life as a pop strumpet, this pair look stupid even before they patronise the villagers of Tressock about Rob Roy and Braveheart.

So it’s no surprise that they barely bat eyelids as the lusty locals offer them lead roles in the May Day celebrations.

With their fate a foregone conclusion, Hardy fails to rouse tension or consistent titters taking us there. Brief pleasures emerge: a subtitled sex scene amuses, Christopher Lee’s cameo adds weight and the climax is suitably charred ’n’ bloody.

Yet characterisation is crude and the innuendo-spiced script (“How’d you like to ride him?”) cruder still.

From his source novel, Cowboys For Christ, Hardy has basically made Carry On Pagan Fuck-bunnies. Wicker fans won’t believe their eyes.

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