Neil LaBute’s remake of The Wicker Man has become one of the best bad movies ever, thanks largely to an extra special scene.
Is any art truly objectively good or bad? It’s all said to be subjective, with beauty being in the eye of the beholder. In fact, plenty of films fall into the “so bad they’re good category.” The 2006 version of The Wicker Man could be a stellar example of this duality. Based on the 1973 British version, one of the first quaint aspects of this version is its all-female, neo-pagan cult. It’s definitely different. The original film had cult-like, sexually obsessed islanders, who were quaint, playful and mysterious, when not menacing. However, the women on the 2006 island are matriarchal, repressed, and see men as subhuman.
Rather than pit Paganism against Christianity, men are seen as rivals to women. In some ways this could be seen as a bold choice, as it instantly opens the film to accusations of misogyny. Nevertheless, much of this is substantially subverted by the overall zany tone of the film. In fact, by the end of its run time, one may have a difficult time elevating this film to any level of controversy.
The Bees, the Burning Question and the Honey
The original Wicker Man featured Edward Woodward in a compelling performance as Police Sergeant Neil Howie. In his search for a missing girl, Howie is ultimately set against the enigmatic Lord Summerisle (Christopher Lee), who is brimming with charisma. In this film, what’s largely at stake is the island’s harvest, and also two apparently different worldviews. One probably leaves that film asking all sorts of questions, and may conceivably become interested in understanding Pagan rituals.
In contrast, Neil LaBute’s film will have most laughing at the comical effects of CG animated bees swarming Nicolas Cage’s face. Seriously, if you’ve watched this film without cracking a smile during that scene, your sense of humor is probably broken. This scene is what all of this film’s future buzz will be about, and everyone knows it. None of the other elements will matter to anyone worth talking to. Well, okay, I’ll be fair here. There are actually three memorable lines from this film. Yes, there’s the classic “Oh no, not the bees!” However, there’s also Cage repeatedly asking, “How’d it get burned?” and “Killing me won’t bring back your g**damn honey!”
The Wicker Man Lives On
The “Oh no, not the bees!” line can be found as an internet meme already. Actually, it pairs incredibly well with a similar classic scene from “Troll 2.” It’s not easy to tell if The Wicker Man was intentionally made funny or not, but there are a few telltale signs of intentional overacting. In fact, that was already considered a part of Nicolas Cage’s skills before this film. In any case, almost no one takes this film very seriously, aside from a few die hard, overly socially conscious critics.
Oh, the line about honey even inspired a song title by Carson Wells. (Note also that “Carson Wells” is a character from the film No Country for Old Men, and a played played by Woody Harrelson).