The Wicker Man

1973

The Wicker Man

Critics Consensus

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

88%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 52

82%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 43,128
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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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Cast

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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Critic Reviews for The Wicker Man

All Critics (52) | Top Critics (9)

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

    Oct 7, 2008 | Full Review…

    Variety Staff

    Variety
    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…
  • You can't help smiling at the audacity of it all and shivering a little at the feelbad ending.

    Aug 24, 2007 | Rating: 3/5
  • A British golden-oldie worthy to be placed alongside classics such as Ira Levin's The Stepford Wives or Rosemary's Baby.

    Aug 24, 2007 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…
  • Devised by its star Christopher Lee, director Robin Hardy and writer Anthony Shaffer as a meditation on the rise of New Age spiritualism, the movie is now, of course, gleefully camp and a tad reactionary.

    Aug 24, 2007 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

    Kevin Maher

    Times (UK)
    Top Critic
  • 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…

Audience Reviews for The Wicker Man

  • Jul 19, 2016
    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 M Super Reviewer
  • Apr 06, 2015
    An unsettling horror film, The Wicker Man is set in a remote Scottish Isle where a police officer is tasked to find a missing girl. However, the bizarre behaviors of the inhabitants suggest something else is going on. The Wicker Man is quietly frightening with it's juxtaposition of cheerful songs and occult imagery, it's a rare British gem with a truly twisted ending.
    Sylvester K Super Reviewer
  • May 13, 2014
    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 Super Reviewer
  • Dec 29, 2012
    "The Wicker Man" could have benefited from better direction. I don't think that Robin Hardy fully realized that he had a potentially terrifying script in his hands, opting instead to take a more eccentric approach to the material. There are short musical numbers that almost come out of nowhere and they just don't fit, and moments that could have been tense and dramatic often come off as purposely silly. Overall, it's a hit-and-miss attempt that's memorable for its ending and because of how strange it is. Edward Woodward fits the role like a glove and he does well when the film takes an eerie turn in its latter stage, but "The Wicker Man" could have been much better if it just felt a little more serious.
    Stephen E Super Reviewer

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