The Wicker Man


The Wicker Man (1973)


Critic Consensus: This intelligent horror film is subtle in its thrills and chills, with an ending that is both shocking and truly memorable.


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Movie Info

A righteous police officer investigating the disappearance of a young girl comes into conflict with the unusual residents of a secluded Scottish isle in this unsettling, intelligent chiller. Brought to the island of Summerisle by an anonymous letter, Edward Woodward's constable is surprised to discover that the island's population suspiciously denies the missing girl's very existence. Even more shocking, at least to the traditionally pious law office, the island is ruled by a libertarian society organized around pagan rituals. Repelled by the open acceptance of sexuality, nature worship, and even witchcraft, the officer takes an antagonistic attitude towards the people and their leader, an eccentric but charming English lord (Christopher Lee). The officer's unease intensifies as he continues his investigation, slowly coming to fear that the girl's disappearance may be linked in a particularly horrifying manner to an upcoming public festival. Anthony Shaffer's meticulously crafted screenplay creates a thoroughly convincing alternative society, building tension through slow discovery and indirect suggestion and making the terrifying climax all the more effective. Performances are also perfectly tuned, with Woodward suitably priggish as the investigator and horror icon Lee delivering one of his most accomplished performances as Lord Summerisle. Little noticed during its original theatrical run due to studio edits and a limited release, the film's intelligence and uncanny tone has since attracted a devoted cult following. -- (C) Rovi

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Edward Woodward
as Sgt. Howie
Diane Cilento
as Miss Rose
Ingrid Pitt
as Librarian
Christopher Lee
as Lord Summerisle
Roy Boyd
as Broome
Aubrey Morris
as Old Gardener/Gravedigger
Walter Carr
as Schoolmaster
Irene Summers
as May Morrison
Irene Sunters
as May Morrison
Lorraine Peters
as Girl on grave
Richard Wren
as Ash Buchanan
Elizabeth Sinclair
as Villager on Summerisle
John Sharp
as Dr. Ewan
Ian Wilson
as Communicant
Russell Waters
as Harbour Master
John Young
as Fishmonger
Ross Campbell
as Communicant
Michael Cole
as Musician
Juliette Cadsow
as Villager on Summerisle
Peter Brewis
as Musician
Juliet Cadzow
as Villager on Summerisle
Lindsay Kemp
as Alder MacGregor
Kevin Collins
as Old Fisherman
Geraldine Cowper
as Rowan Morrison
John Hallam
as Constable McTaggart
Donald Eccles
as T.H. Lennox
Myra Forsyth
as Mrs. Grimmond
Jennifer Martin
as Myrtle Morrison
Leslie Blackwater
as Hairdresser
Barbara Ann Brown
as Woman with Baby
Alison Hughes
as Sgt. Howie's Fiancee
Tony Roper
as Postman
Helen Norman
as Villager on Summerisle
Ian Cutler
as Musician
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News & Interviews for The Wicker Man

Critic Reviews for The Wicker Man

All Critics (49) | Top Critics (5)

Anthony Shaffer penned the screenplay which, for sheer imagination and near-terror, has seldom been equalled.

Oct 7, 2008 | Full Review…
Top Critic

Robin Hardy's 1973 cult horror film passed through several distributors, several versions, and several bankruptcies, picking up a powerful reputation along the way.

Oct 7, 2008 | Full Review…

The Wicker Man's genre-bending, thematic daring, and tortuous history have made it the U.K.'s definitive cult movie.

Aug 29, 2006 | Full Review…

Essentially, it's an insane guilty pleasure, still enjoyable for its delightfully eccentric casting and for the funniest, creepiest pub scene in British movies outside of next week's reissue, Withnail & I.

Jan 26, 2006 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…
Time Out
Top Critic

Like many of the best horror/thrillers, The Wicker Man works because it surprises audiences, relying on carefully-nurtured suspense rather than cheap, theatrical shocks.

Feb 24, 2002 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…

A genius conflation of the on-screen pagan versus Christian (and provincial versus federal) dichotomies into an equally combustible cinematographic battle of the sensibilities

Nov 10, 2018 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Wicker Man

This popular British cult film follows a devout Christian policeman to an island where the locals are all believers of some ancient pagan Earth god. And "horrors". That's it. The shocker. An island of sex fertility nuts. Atmospheric and moody, it's those charms that carry the thing. It's different, that's for sure.

Kevin M. Williams
Kevin M. Williams

Super Reviewer


Extremely audacious for the time it came out, this creepy cult classic should be remembered for the many intelligent questions it raises about religious intolerance and blind faith, while offering us also a memorable performance by Christopher Lee and a terrifying, unforgettable ending.

Carlos Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer


Unusual to be sure. An unsettling drama with mystical overtones, excellent performances.

jay nixon
jay nixon

Super Reviewer

It's very difficult to have anything incisive to say about this horror film, because it is so strange and otherworldly. An English policeman, who has rigorous moral and religious attitudes, arrives at a secluded island where a town of people celebrates public sex and nudity, sexual education, and unconventional methods of communication and discourse. The policeman finds these heathens wanting and tells them so at every opportunity. He is looking for a missing child, who he believes has been murdered by this island of cultists, and so he has little patience for them. Throughout the movie there are interspersed scenes of sexual congress in the fields of the lush isle, and gleeful pagan music. There's no religion, which chafes the officer, and lends to outbursts aimed at all manner of people. It's strange that he has no patience for these people, when they exist throughout England, but it does lend to a tension that keeps us guessing throughout the entire film. The twist was obvious from the outset, and the symbolism of these pagans leans more towards fanatical Christianity's worst fear, but otherwise it was definitely an unsettling film.

Spencer S.
Spencer S.

Super Reviewer

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