So, this weekend, I watched both The Covenant (The Butcher’s Elevator Pitch: The Craft for dudes!) and The Wicker Man. Both were delightfully terrible.
The Covenant was so stupid I almost don’t know what to tell you. I could give you the premise, but the whole thing is so predictable that telling you the premise would give away the whole movie. But, okay, here it is: the last male descendants of the five founding families of Ipswitch have witchy powers that, if overused, turn them ancient before their time. There are four good guy witches, the best good guy witch is taking care of his ancient before his time dad. Ooo, but there were five founding families…
So, anyway, unless you need proof that all white people look the same (and in this movie, the leading people all look so similar I sometimes found it hard to follow. Was that the main good guy or the bad guy?), I’d stay away.
The Wicker Man, on the other hand, is amazingly bad. I know Neil LaBute has this reputation for being a great writer, but I’ve got to tell you, watching that made me wonder if LaBute has ever met actual women or experienced joy. And so I must insist that you see it.
See, the thing–the crucial thing, I think–about the original The Wicker Man is that it looks like great fun to live on the island. People fuck and dance around and have parties and parades and, in general, it looks like the kind of place one might want to live, or at least vacation. You understand why they would risk bringing an outsider there to sacrifice–and it is a risk on a number of levels, a risk that his disappearance will bring other outsiders and a risk that he will loosen up and start enjoying the island and they will have lost their virgin sacrifice. It seems like the kind of place worth making sacrifices for.
And yet, I think it’s easy enough to imagine that someone with another mindset might sit there quite horrified, identifying instead with the police officer.
Somehow, in LaBute’s rendition, it’s both harder to identify with the pagans–why would anyone choose such a dower quiet life? (The school teacher and the tavern owner are the only two people who manage to imbue their characters with anything approaching sizzle.) And harder to identify with the police officer–nothing in the brief hint we’re given of him before he gets to the island prepares us for his awkward behavior on the island.
And then, at the end, in a move so stupid I almost had to rewind it, LaBute flashes forward six months and we see two of the women trying to bed two more men.
I think it’s supposed to be ambiguous and horrifying. We don’t know if the sacrifice worked and so they’re looking for more men in case they need another one years later or if it didn’t work and so they’re going to try to lure more men to the island (for that matter, it doesn’t make any sense that they say they’re sacrificing him because of a terrible harvest and yet they also try to convince him that they’ve been planning this for years, since his fiancee first hooked up with him).
But I have to think it would be a tad more horrifying if we saw that it had worked.
Anyway, men, at the least you should watch it just so you know that when you get a calligraphied letter from a woman claiming her child has been kidnapped, you’ll know what you’re getting into.
Because, I mean, seriously. If your kid has been kidnapped by a crazy cult, are you really going to take the time to beautifully shape every letter in the note you send for help?
That was a plot hole big enough to drive a mysterious-girl-crushing-truck through.