Wicker Man (1973)

Grim crime tale

Main Cast: Edward Woodward, Christopher Lee, Diane Cilento, Britt Ekland

Director: Robin Hardy

Plot Summary: A police sergeant, in search of a missing girl, finds mystery and strange goings-on at a small island village.

Dark in heart and titillating in spirit, The Wicker Man takes place in one small village with a tight little cast of characters. The main protagonist is, of course, the police officer by the name of Howie. Played absolutely straight and correct by Edward Woodward, he lands at the small island village and tries to track down clues to a missing girl.

At first the folks deny ever knowing the girl, but the sergeant is tenacious. He slowly builds a case, step by step, ferreting out clues. We are there with him all the way, and never have to yell directions at the screen. He is smart and clever, and does not miss the obvious.

His blind spot may be his religion. He finds that the village folk are not Christian and follow their own set of rules, deemed pagan by the outraged cop. As religion is very much a hot topic in this country, The Wicker Man has not aged in this regard. I am confident in saying that most of the rituals on display would still make most Americans angry. I am not religious, so did not feel the deep emotions that the writer and director were aiming for, but I can note them.

The ending? Well, I won’t give that away. Suffice it to say that he does indeed find the missing girl, but… that is not the ending. Not by a long shot.

I can appreciate The Wicker Man for what it is: a horror/thriller. Certainly the tone is just right, with just a touch of menace lurking just under the surface, although the true horror does not come until the very end. It is very well done, with the story tight and interesting, the characters well defined, and the conclusion obvious (once everything is explained).

I can definitely recommend The Wicker Man to thriller and horror fans alike.

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