The Wicker Man (1973) - Rotten Tomatoes

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.

The Wicker Man Trailers & Photos

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) Rovimore
Rating: R
Genre: Drama, Horror, Mystery & Suspense, Classics
Directed By:
Written By: Anthony Shaffer
In Theaters:
On DVD: Jan 6, 2009
LionsGate Entertainment


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/Gravedi...
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 Summeris...
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 Summeris...
Peter Brewis
as Musician
Juliet Cadzow
as Villager on Summeris...
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 Summeris...
Ian Cutler
as Musician
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for The Wicker Man

Critic Reviews for The Wicker Man

All Critics (48) | Top Critics (5)

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

Full Review… | October 7, 2008
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.

Full Review… | October 7, 2008
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

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

Full Review… | August 29, 2006
Village Voice
Top Critic

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.

Full Review… | January 26, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Christopher Lee, who plays the lord of the island, thinks it's one of the finest films he's ever made -- and he's right.

Full Review… | October 7, 2013
Radio Times

A truly unique horror movie, one of the odd handful throughout history that doesn't really seem to have been influenced by anything and has no obvious heirs, not even its own remake.

Full Review… | May 2, 2012
Antagony & Ecstasy

Audience Reviews for The Wicker Man

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.

Super Reviewer

While Cinemafantastique termed The Wicker Man "the Citizen Kane" of horror films, I believe this is an excellent and fascinating film but that designation is pure hyperbole. This film is not so much a horror film as it is an unusual mystery about a clash of cultures that defy understanding, and within one region of one nation. It is thought-provoking and iconoclastic. The ending is jaw-droppingly memorable, both visually and as the climax of the plot.

I liked the cast; Woodward is perfectly cast, even better than the well-known Christopher Lee. Lee is an iconic villain yet this role calls more for obscure or mysterious than frightening or sinister. One-time Rod Stewart girlfriend Britt Ekland's nudity is a bonus! There is pervasive nudity throughout the film, added as a shock to traditional British sensibilities.

The only real deficiencies, for me, are the goofy, "hippy" elements of this 1973 film. It archaic, today, like a pagan cult Brady Bunch. The plot and characters still hold up today as shocking, only some imagery and music are dated. In summation, this is a brilliant story of manipulation, delusion, even psychosis- comparisons with The Stepford Wives and Rosemary's Baby are legitimate.

Clintus M.
Clintus Maximus

Super Reviewer


The journey till the end of the movie was quite boring, and at times, unbearable. I'd have given it just 1/2 out of 5, had it not for it's extremely mind-blowing twist at the end. It's one of the best twists I've ever seen. In short, if you wanna see this amazing twist, you'll have to pay the price for it, that is, get bored & tolerate the whole movie until it reaches the point of twist.

It might have ended up among my favorites had they taken the pain to better pen the investigative process (making it interesting enough rather than boring). Then again, there are those who admire it the way it is. May it suit your taste & serve more viewers than less.

familiar stranger

Super Reviewer

The Wicker Man Quotes

There are no approved quotes yet for this movie.

Discussion Forum

Discuss The Wicker Man on our Movie forum!