The Wicker Tree REVIEW

Sir Lachlan Morrison (Graham McTavish) in The Wicker Tree.

"I only took this role on the promise there'd be naked fireside dancing, damnit!"

Release Date: 30 April 2012
2011 | 15 | 93 minutes | £15.99 (DVD)/£19.99 (Blu-ray)
Distributor: Anchor Bay Entertainment
Director: Robin Hardy
Cast: Brittania Nicol, Henry Garrett, Graham McTavish, Honeysuckle Weeks, Christopher Lee

This movie could have been awful. A belated follow-up to 1973’s The Wicker Man, one of the most original and exhilarating British horror films ever made, it was in gestation for ages, then failed to get a UK cinema release. But it’s not too bad, although, unsurprisingly, it lacks the power of its parent.

Based on Robin Hardy’s 2006 novel Cowboys For Christ, it follows two young American evangelists – gospel-singer cutie pie Beth Boothby and her cowboy hat-wearing boyfriend Steve – as they’re sent to Scotland to help spread the word of the Lord. They end up in a rural village where the folk are more interested in a much older religion, Paganism, and the couple get rather more than they’ve bargained for…

So how much like the original is it? Well, plotwise, as you might already have guessed, it’s not dissimilar. In other respects it’s familiar too – there are numerous musical numbers and some coquettish eroticism (supplied by the wonderfully monickered Honeysuckle Weeks, as opposed to Brit Ekland). It probably deserves the most plaudits for foregoing modern crudities and stylistic twitches, almost looking like a film that could have been made in the ‘70s.

Where it falls short is a lean supply of narrative surprises or dramatic tension, and a pace that’s a little too leisurely. It’s all just a bit bland. Viewers who haven’t seen the original film may be the most disappointed of them all.


A Making Of (12 minutes), ten minutes of deleted scenes, and the trailer.

Russell Lewin

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