Frightfest review: The Wicker Tree Simon Fitzjohn August 28, 2011 Film4 Frightfest, Movie Reviews 1273 Not really a sequel, nor a remake, The Wicker Tree, according to director Robin Hardy, simply exists ‘in the same genre’ as the fabled original. Now I don’t want to start an argument here Mr Hardy, but I simply have to disagree. For while the seminal Wicker Man was creepy, interesting and chock-full of stellar acting turns, this shoddy effort has none of those elements. Ditching the intriguing police/mystery element of the search for a missing child that propelled the 1973 chiller, this update offers up a wishy-washy storyline that will probably lose its audience long before the amped-up conclusion. Brittania Nicol and Henry Garrett play two Texan born-again Christians (she a former Britney Spears-esque pop star), sent to a sleepy village on the Scottish border with England to spread the word of god. Quite why anybody in that part of the US would give two hoots about what happens in a place like Tressock is anybody’s guess, but we are expected to go with it. While the initial reaction to their arrival is one of bemusement and, at times, ignorance, the guests are eventually welcomed into the fold as preparations begin for the May Dance (I think we can all see where things are going here). Overseeing the village is Sir Lachlan Morrison (Graham McTavish), who also bosses a nearby nuclear power station that appears to have made the villagers infertile – so a crowbarred-in plot strand tells us. It appears as though this time around Hardy simply drew up a checklist from his first-time effort and ticked the items off. Oddball villagers, corny sex scenes and some talk on religion are all there, but there is also a wealth of ill-judged humour that often leaves you wondering just what the film is trying to be – or who it is trying to appeal to. And, as if that is not enough, the mighty Christopher Lee turns up for no more than a 30-second cameo, despite his name being plastered over the promotional material. The acting is solid if not spectacular, although neither Nicol nor Garrett make appealing leads. And switching the action to a mainland village seems an odd choice, as you do wonder just how the people of Tressock manage to get away with everything. Predictable, slow, frustrating and struggling for a real identity, The Wicker Tree proves a major disappointment.