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The Wicker Tree [DVD] 
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From the makers of the cult classic THE WICKER MAN, and based on director Robin Hardy s own novel Cowboys for Christ , a Texas gospel singer and her boyfriend, both devout evangelical Christians, are sent to Scotland on a mission to spread the word of God. After a concert in Glasgow Cathedral the pair are invited by Sir Lachlan Morrison to preach in his remote border village. They assume their host simply wants to hear more about the Bible and are delighted when offered central roles in the fiefdom s May Day celebrations, especially their custom of the Riding of the Laddie. But soon the horrifying reality dawns on the naïve couple as they learn the true significance of the Celtic pagan rites. Reuniting Hardy with legendary actor Christopher Lee for a story in the style of the 1973 landmark fantasy comes the most eagerly anticipated horror movie of the year.
About the Director
Robin Hardy (born 10 October 1929) is an English author and film director. His most famous directorial work was The Wicker Man, and his latest project is a film adaptation of his book Cowboys for Christ, which has been retitled as, The Wicker Tree. Hardy now lives in London and Somerset.
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This is doing the rounds on the Horror Channel so save yourself a few bob and catch it there.
Not having much luck in the city, the Texas couple is recruited to heathen Tressock by Delia Morrison (Jacqueline Leonard) and Sir Lachlan Morrison (Graham McTavish). Here they worship the ancient lunar goddess. On the island they are treated warmly. Lolly (Honeysuckle Weeks- not a porn name) plays up to Steve, she has taken over the seductress role of Brit Ekland.
I loved hearing Beth preach, "Jesus was greater than Rob Roy..." If you have seen any of the "Wicker Man" movies then you know how things evolve.
It was good to see Christopher Lee pass the baton, unfortunately this film wasn't as great as the original. The acting was fair, with some decent characters. Jack was my favorite.
If I had written this story I would have changed the ending to involve Jack and a "Don't mess with Texas" theme. That would have sold.
sex, nudity [Honeysuckle Weeks, Henry Garrett (rear), Brittania Nicol (rear) Misc. extras]
In the original, Howie's character was a believable, devout Christian - committed, horrified at Summerisle's pagan practices and living out a believable battle between his commitment to faith and all the temptations that Summerisle presents. In contrast, the Wicker Tree's Beth and Steve are shallow caricatures, lame stereotypes played for cheap laughs. Their mission to evangelise 'heathen Scotland' doesn't ring true. Relocating from a remote island to mainland UK removes any hint of genuine threat and isolation (you don't for one moment believe this place actually exists) and, given that Hardy is a Brit, that kind of lazy writing and directing is unforgivable. Clearly no research went in to trying to authentically present these places and characters - S+B's relationship is unconvincing from the first moment, their behaviour dubious, Beth's back-story is laughable and their methods of faith-sharing unconvincing guess work on Hardy's part. These things are also true of the characters' portrayal in Hardy's book (Cowboys for Christ) so it's no surprise that the film lazily regurgitates these errors. By the time their inevitable demise ensues, you've long ceased caring and you're just left hoping that the pay-off for these wretched cardboard cut-outs is worth it. It's not.
Clearly the Wicker Man is fantastical, but the joy and horror of it stems from the possibility that it could.. just be.. a true story. Tree, on the other hand, is like a poorly thought out play written by 15 year olds for a GCSE drama production. Everything that was bold, funny, scary, shocking and beautiful about the first film is (I assume unintentionally) mocked or (intentionally) rehashed. In 90 minutes there was one moving moment and only one genuinely (and intentionally) funny scene. Thematically, any attempt to comment on faith and religion, hope and virtue, sacrifice and naivete, love and death, nature and fear all go out of the window - if they were ever welcomed in to the room in the first place. The whole thing stinks. The music is tagged on, unmemorable and cringe-worthy. The comedy characters are woefully misjudged and their story arcs embarrassing. It doesn't matter how many breasts are thrust at the screen, there is zero erotic tension - Steve's temptation and subsequent actions are so ludicrous that Woodward would turn in his grave if he could see his character's virtues and struggles being so lazily lambasted.
Did I also mention: it's not at all scary. The Christopher Lee scene should have gone straight to the cutting room floor. The dialogue is naff. The acting is - for the most part and excluding Clive Russell - amateur. The rituals and rites of May Day and the Riding of the Laddie fail to engage or intimidate.
Pluses? The scenery is nice. The poster art is excellent. Nic Cage isn't in it - although I'd watch that sacrilegious Wicker Man remake 10 times before I ever sat down to watch this again. Why? because for other people to demonstrate sheer stupidity in tearing apart and misunderstanding the Wicker Man legend is one thing - for Robin Hardy to do it in such a cheap, tacky, boring, patronising way is something else entirely and he should be duly ashamed.
If you love the Wicker Man, curiosity will drive to you see this anyway - I'd be really interested to hear if people found it more bearable or less disappointing than I did. Am I being too harsh? Whatever - I won't be watching it again to find out.