Aaaaaargh! Not the bees!
Above: Cunningly disguised as a bear, Nicolas Cage rescues little Madeleine… I mean Rowan
In case you aren’t aware, Amazon UK runs a DVD rental service similar to that offered by the likes of Blockbuster and LoveFilm, albeit without such a wide range of available titles. Anyway, if you have an Amazon account, it seems that you can get a month of free rentals. I’m not convinced that the various packages offered are cost-effective enough to be worth it in the long run, but a free trial certainly doesn’t hurt, and I decided a few days ago to start renting some titles.
Top of the list was the remake of The Wicker Man, a film with such an awesome pedigree of awfulness that I couldn’t just rely on the word of mouth - I really had to see it for myself. I had already seen a hilarious reel collecting many of its more intentionally funny scenes, but I felt the need to understand them in context, especially after reading my good friend the Baron’s excellent review of both this atrocity and the very good 1973 original.
In retrospect, perhaps “context” is a misleading word to use, because there really is no such thing. This film is so moronic and damn near incompetent that I actually think clips of Nicolas Cage karate-kicking Leelee Sobieski in the abdomen, donning a bear costume, stealing children’s animal face masks and finally having a hive of bees poured over his head work better in isolation than they do when integrated into this meandering, preposterous tale about a policeman with a crippling allergy to bees invading an island-based matriarchal commune in search of his missing daughter.
Just to put this into perspective, in the original, the protagonist, Sergeant Howie (Edward Woodward), was a devoted Christian lured to an island by a group of pagans who needed a virgin for their yearly harvest sacrifice. Obviously, the writer/director of the remake, Neil LaBute, came to the conclusion that Nicolas Cage was such a dishy catch that no-one would believe he was a virgin, so this particular aspect of his character has been replaced by a tendency to flap his arms and faint when in the vicinity of bees. Guess what the women of this island are famed for producing? That’s right: honey. (“Well, Christianity and bee allergy, they’re kind of the same thing,” a friend said to me today when I told him about the film.)
None of this really makes any sense. Why does Cage have a bee allergy? Why is the island dominated by women, with the few male inhabitants subservient mutes? Why does he spend the final act of the film violently assaulting many of said women? Why did LaBute decide to make the missing girl Cage’s daughter? Why would anyone in their right mind commission this heap of drivel? Presumably, someone in a position of power genuinely believed in this project. Cage, who also gets a producer credit, certainly did, although his hammy, outrageous performance as the marauding Edward Malus (yes, that is his name - the man who ends up being murdered by a group of crazy women just happens to be called… oh, never mind) might make you wondering if the whole thing is just an extended piss-take. Rest assured that it isn’t, more’s the pity: it’s deadly serious, and it’s a strong contender for the worst film of 2006.