The Wicker Tree – UK, 2011

Wicker Tree

‘Accept our sacrifice’

The Wicker Tree is a 2011 horror film written and directed by British filmmaker Robin Hardy. Based on Hardy’s 2006 novel Cowboys for Christ, the film contains many direct parallels and allusions to the 1973 film The Wicker Man, which he also directed. However, The Wicker Tree is neither a sequel nor a remake, rather it is intended as a companion piece that explores the same themes.

Plot:

Beth is a successful pop singer and a devout evangelical Christian from Texas, United States. She and her fiance Steve both wear purity rings, and belong to a group known as the “Cowboys for Christ”, who travel to “heathen areas” of the world to preach Christianity.

The Reverend Moriarty (James Mapes) sends them off to travel to Glasgow, Scotland, hoping to save some souls once there. However, they are shocked when they receive a very negative reception, Beth even being set upon by a large dog.

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After performing a concert at a local cathedral, the duo are approached by Sir Lachlan Morrison and his wife Delia, the laird of the small village of Tressock in the Scottish lowlands. They invite Beth and Steve to come back with them to preach, but intend them for a more central part in Tressock’s May Day celebration.

Meanwhile, detective Orlando is sent to Tressock, posing as the local police officer, in order to secretly investigate reports of a pagan cult. Orlando discovers that the people of the village worship the ancient Celt goddess Sulis

Reviews:

“Again, the town’s natives are a randy lot, with Honeysuckle Weeks playing the Britt Ekland temptress role and providing abundant nudity. But the decadence is more restrained; the gore, as before, is minimal. Inside references — animal carcasses, a costume horse-head, a sun pendant — drop in amid innovations, like an amusing crow’s-eye perspective. But finding sympathy for the leads isn’t as easy as it was for the forceful if self-righteous Woodward.” Andy Webster, The New York Times

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“Bluntly speaking, the The Wicker Tree is going to be seen as horrific and blasphemous to those who saw the original film as an act of iconic horror and blasphemy. Yet underneath its broad tone and stagey execution is something worthy of conversation that might be best to walk with your eyes open.  The film may not be as elegant (or cinematic) as the original, but perhaps is a more pertinent commentary on our times…” Kurt Halfyard, Twitch Film

“Blackly comic, with a host of fabulously eccentric characters, The Wicker Tree is a keenly observed satire that belongs to a different time – in many ways it strongly resembles Lindsay Anderson’s underrated Brittania Hospital. This companion piece to Hardy’s pagan original may not be to every fan/critics taste, but it’s so curiously quirky and deftly-written that it definitely deserves another go.” Peter Fuller, Kultguy’s Keep

Buy on DVD from Amazon.com

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Buy: Amazon.co.uk

Cast:

Wikipedia | IMDb

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