The Covenant and The Wicker Man

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.

6 thoughts on “The Covenant and The Wicker Man

  1. I haven’t seen wicker man, but only assemblages of clips on youtube, and they never fail to crack me up.




    i can’t stop laughing even now just thinking about it

  2. Oh my god! And I forgot to mention all the woman-punching. For some reason, at some point, Cage’s character just starts running around randomly punching women. I guess you’re supposed to feel for him, because he’s so frustrated, but it’s shockingly random and pointless.

    Anyway, I choose to believe that killing him will bring their goddamn honey back.

    Although, in fairness to how stupid the movie was, we see long before his death that a.) the hives are once again producing honey and b.) if they invested in some flowering plants, they might be better served than by sacrificing him, since there appear to be few, if any, flowering plants on the island.

  3. I was pretty young (maybe 14) when I first saw the original Wicker Man on tv, so I didn’t understand a lot of it, including most of the lyrics in the song the men sing in the pub about the landlord’s daughter. But since she seemed happy about it, I didn’t see why it should be such a problem, even though it was pretty clear the lyrics were supposed to be sexually explicit.

    I was similarly puzzled by most of the movie, even with though I was in Catholic school then and throughout my childhood. Most of the time I couldn’t understand what the policeman was having hissyfits about, though I felt sorry for him pretty much continually since he was trying to find the lost child and getting the runaround. That’s why I was confused, inf fact — he was there to figure out what happened to the little girl, so why was he spending time and energy having fits over other stuff? I also didn’t understand why the islanders weren’t cooperating, of course, until that was explained a the end.

    Now I want to see it again as an adult.

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