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Film / The Wicker Man (2006)

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A Remake of the 1973 horror classic, directed by Neil LaBute and starring Nicolas Cage. But you probably know it for another reason...

The Bees.

The film concerns police officer Edward Malus, whose ex-fiancée Willow Woodward informs him that her daughter Rowan has disappeared and asks for his assistance in her search. When he arrives at the island where Rowan was last seen, he suspects something sinister about the neo-pagans who reside on the island.


  • Adaptation Name Change: Summerisle is now "Summersisle".
  • Artistic License – Law: Malus would not be allowed to take Willow's case due to the fact that he is her ex-boyfriend which would be personal involvement, especially since her daughter is in danger. This is due to the fact that since someone he knows personally is involved, it may result in him using excessive force that he wouldn't do normally if he had never met her until taking her case — which he does in fact do, physically assaulting at least two residents of the island, stealing someone's bicycle at gunpoint, and threatening to shoot people.
    • There's also the fact that his allergy to bee venom would likely result in him not being able to take the case since Summersisle is known for beekeeping. Even if he was able to get enough EpiPens to supply a school, his police insurance wouldn't allow it due to unnecessary risk. It'd be like a cop with a severe peanut allergy taking on a murder case at a peanut butter factory.
  • Author Appeal: This isn't the first film by Neil LaBute that examined sexism with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer.
  • Big "NO!": Edward when Rowan sets fire to the wicker man and he realizes his fate.
  • Book Ends: The film both begins and ends with someone trapped inside something that is burning, someone outside the fire looking in, and the roles are reversed between the two. In the beginning, a car is burning and Cage is trying to save the people trapped inside; at the end, Cage is trapped inside the burning Wicker Man, while the people who orchestrated the original "accident" look on from outside.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Edward is allergic to bees. He is going to an island famed for its honey.
  • Chewing the Scenery: Given that the movie has Nicolas Cage playing Edward Malus, expect him to do this at every possible chance he gets. Nick even claimed that he did this on purpose.
  • Complexity Addiction: This plan to sacrifice Malus to bring about prosperity is way, way too complicated, and it's confusing as to why it had to be an outsider with a child in their community. There had to be easier ways to find a dumb fall guy for the sacrifice that didn't involve several years of gaslighting and planning to execute the plan.
  • Covers Always Lie: This poster makes it look like the movie is about a demonic child (hence the Glowing Eyes). Not only is the girl on the poster not demonic or possessed, but there are zero supernatural elements in the film.
  • Creepy Twins: Though unusually for Creepy Twins, they're really old ladies, not kids.
  • Downer Ending: Even more so than the original film which at least made Howie a Doomed Moral Victor. Edward is set-up by his ex-girlfriend and her daughter, and gets sacrificed inside a giant wicker man in flames.
  • Dream Within a Dream: Edward dozes off on the pier while waiting for the seaplane pilot, and has a nightmare in which he finds the dead little girl under the pier. Then he wakes up... to find her corpse in his lap. Then he wakes up again.
  • Fake Mystery: Just like the original film, Edward is called out to Summerisle to investigate the disappearance of a young girl. The girl turns out to not be missing at all, and served as a ploy to get Edward to the island so he can be sacrificed.
  • Fake-Out Twist: The missing girl Edward came to the island to find? She was never missing. The villagers are hiding her and are planning to sacrifice her to their gods... except, actually, the whole case was a lie, they're planning to sacrifice Edward, and they succeed.
  • Floral Theme Naming: Each of the sisters are named after a type of flower. Edward even comments on this.
  • Gambit Roulette: The islander's plan would have fallen apart before it started, if Edward hadn't been knocked unconscious while trying to save the two women in the burning car, allowing them to escape unseen. The Plan only becomes more dependent on luck from that point on, considering how much of it required him to notice the right thing or even be facing the right direction at the right time.
  • Gaslighting: The inhabitants of Summer's Isle are intentionally gaslighting Malus so he chases his own tail in this investigation. The best example of this trope is when Malus is confronting Roan's teacher:
    Malus: How did she die?
    Teacher: She'll burn to death.
    Malus: What? What did you say?
    Teacher: I said she burned to death.
  • Gender Flip: Lord Summerisle was rewritten as Sister Summersisle.
  • The Hero Dies: Like in the original, Edward himself at the end. Unlike the original, he dies screaming.
  • Hollywood Law: Malus is operating outside of his jurisdiction, as he is a member of the California Highway Patrol and Summersisle is just a short distance away from Seattle.
  • Honey Trap: Ironically, this is the way the women of Summerisle, an island known for its beekeeping, lure men in to be sacrificed.
  • Hero Stole My Bike: Not wanting to walk to where he needs to go, Edward tells a nearby woman to get off her bike. When that doesn't work, he decides to hold her at gunpoint and commands her to "Step away from the bike!", which does work.
  • Lady Land: The island's population is mostly made up of woman. If there are any men on the island, very few are seen and are usually not in any noteworthy positions.
  • Large Ham: It isn't hard to see this happening when you have Nicolas Cage on set.
  • Luke, You Are My Father: Willow reveals to Malus that yes, Rowan is his daughter, after he gets suspicious. The islanders apparently believe it was necessary to have a sacrifice with a blood connection to one of their people.
  • Makes Just as Much Sense in Context: Even knowing how all the Memetic Mutation stuff fits into the narrative doesn't make it any more logical or understandable.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • The protagonist Edward Malus, a lawman who spends the movie investigating a pagan cult, may be named for the Malleus Malificarum, a treatise on prosecuting witches published in the 15th century.
    • Alternatively, Malus is the Latin word for apple, and is used in the taxonomy of the species.
    • "Malus" has also been proposed to be a portmanteau of "male" and "phallus", both of which are mentioned quite a bit in the film. As such, Edward Malus ends up becoming the male sacrifice the cult was looking for.
  • Milkman Conspiracy: Malus arrives to the island and comes to head with a terrifying misandrist pagan cult of... beekeepers?
  • Mythology Gag: A subtle one (if you can call anything in this movie "subtle"). As mentioned above, "Malus" is the Latin word for "apple", possibly referencing the 1973 original, where Lord Summerisle's cult carried out human sacrifices to ensure a successful apple harvest.
  • Obviously Evil: One of the main criticisms is that unlike the 1973 film, the Summersisle inhabitants are obviously creepy. The reason this is an issue is because it makes the plot-twist at the end less of a surprise.
  • Plot Allergy: Most of the story takes place on an island famous for beekeeping. Despite Edward happening to have a bee allergy, he doesn't appear to bring any medicine or backup with him to prepare for this.
  • Police Brutality: Edward, who completely walks all over the people of Summersisle. He barges into houses, steals things, and even assaults several people. To add insult to injury, he's outside of his jurisdiction.
  • Related in the Adaptation: Unlike in the original, Rowan is the daughter of the cop who goes searching for her.
  • Scary Stinging Swarm: NOT THE BEES!!!
  • Shout-Out:
    • Nightmares about blonde girls in red raincoats are a reference to Don't Look Now.
    • A Tuckerization of Edward Woodward, who played Sergeant Howie in the original film, is split between two characters: Edward Malus and Rowan Woodward.
  • Straw Feminist: The cult. Particularly egregious in light of the Gaelic paganism portrayed in the original, which explicitly stated that Man and Woman were indispensable to each other. On the other hand, these guys were American and probably got their ideas about whatever brand of Celtic paganism they're supposedly following off the internet. The cult pushes rhetoric that they're "simply not subservient" to men on the island, but in truth, they just keep the men as sex slaves and regular slaves for labor, so any talk that they "love" their men is immediately and easily blown over in an argument. Then they actively gaslight Malus the entire time he's there, but given that he's really stupid, you can only be so mad at them since it's so easy to fool someone like him. It all culminates with them revealing his daughter is alive just to lure him into the final wicker man trap, which makes them all murderers and could technically result in their colony's downfall if the authorities on the mainland come after them, legally or not. They really don't come out looking any better than patriarchal men in other works, especially in this director's repertoire in particular.
  • Stupid Evil: The cult comes off as this, in stark contrast to the original film. Their plan is a study in Complexity Addiction. They lure Malus to the island under false pretenses (even though Lady Summersisle insists he "came of his own free will") and then gaslight him intensely until he's driven insane, then break his legs and either toss him into a wicker man to burn to death (the theatrical version) or to be stung to death by bees (he's deathly allergic). All of this is done under the insistence that it will make them prosperous, but in reality, the odds that the mainland authorities investigate them could put their entire community at risk of falling apart.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Edward Malus is this to an almost ludicrous degree.
    • Edward barges onto the island and tries to throw his police weight around, with no plan, no actual authority to enforce the non-existent plan, and no backup. Not even a token visit to the local police to explain why he's there.
    • Again, he's allergic to bees, yet goes to an island famous for...beekeeping. Apparently without any medication.
    • Even though Edward is bullying the citizens of the island with no back-up (or any apparent way of communicating with his superiors to ask for back-up), he still manages to ignore and overlook clear signs of evidence. When he sees two women carrying a corpse-shaped, slightly-moving bag with red liquid dripping from it, he just gets spooked by it and lets them walk away with it.
    • Knowing full well he's on an island full of Obviously Evil crackpots who clearly don't like him, he continuously puts himself in even more dangerous positions—the most mind-numbingly stupid example is probably his dip in the easily-covered cistern (not to mention, in the easily-locked tomb, though that doesn't end up being relevant—probably because nobody was actually trying to kill him yet).
    • Asking Rowan to put down the flaming torch she's been given to light the Wicker Man that he is trapped inside. Naturally, she does. With predictable results.
  • Unexpected Virgin: Subverted. The virgin aspect was removed due to LaBute considering the notion of Cage playing a virgin ridiculous. They gave his character an allergy to bees instead. Not quite the same.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Edward Malus sends elderly ladies flying into walls with karate-side kicks. He also punches one woman while wearing a suit and tie, punches another while wearing a bear costume, kicks Leelee Sobieski, and bikejacks another woman at gunpoint. Which has all been condensed here. In said character's defense, he thinks they're all conspiring to burn a little girl alive. That's what they want him to think.

What's in the bag? A trope or something?