Every once in a while I run across a movie that simply defies conventional logic. It eschews any sort of normalcy or coherent thought and goes straight for the jugular in the most nonsensical way possible. The last film of that ilk that I was subjected to was 'I Melt with You,' which admittedly had better actors than 'The Wicker Tree,' but still required roughly the same amount of functional brain cells to make and/or view (which is next to nil if you're keeping score at home).
'The Wicker Tree' baffles with its idiotic assumption that it's a horror movie. Saying 'The Wicker Tree' is a horror movie is like saying 'Kazaam' is a comedy. Somewhere there's been a complete disconnect of sorts. Here's a movie that thinks it's scary beyond all reason, but is so bafoonish and oddly paced that one wonders what the point of it was in the first place.
To set the scene, Beth Boothby (Brittania Nicol) is a country signing star who resembles what Anna Faris might look like after having been stung by a swarm of bees. Beth is putting her illustrious singing career on hold to go teach the folks of Britain the gospel of Jesus Christ. Those Brits up along the Scottish and English borders have become quite the heathens and Beth is gonna go set them on the straight and narrow. Accompanying Beth on her proselyting mission is her weirdo fiancé Steve (Henry Garrett) who is determined to marry his sweetheart, but not until after their mission. They've both committed to wearing chastity rings to show their constant vigilance of purity. Although, one questions the intelligence in sending two libido-driven teenagers 3,000 miles away, banking on the hope that they won't fornicate.
Beth and Steve soon arrive in the idyllic land of jolly-old England where everyone acts like they've been told to "act really British." They're soon introduced to the two most prominent figures in the small village they'll be preaching in. Sir Lachlan Morrison (Graham McTavish) and his wife, Delia (Jacqueline Leonard) look devious from the outset, but Beth is too naïve to see it. They lurk in dark corners while Delia spouts lines like, "I bet she has a musky bush and milky tits," as they ogle Beth's swollen features. Are they dirty, over-the-hill swingers? Ick. Does this abnormal exchange make a lick of sense? Not really.
Like something torn directly out of the 'X-Files' reject pile, 'The Wicker Tree,' (which has an astonishingly low number of actual wicker trees) turns into one of the most laughable horror movies in recent memory. It can only be considered horror if you're talking about the feeling you're having as you watch wide-eyed Texan girl Beth wander around the English countryside giggling at all the crazy things these Brits do. Or maybe when you realize halfway through the movie that it's going absolutely nowhere. In order to fill its nudity quotient it repeatedly visits the friendly banging of a local minx, Lolly (Honeysuckle Weeks) and a town police officer. What it has to do with the rest of the story, I haven't a clue, but you do get to see some bouncing boobs and some terribly acted orgasms. So there's that.
There's also the town coot who speaks in rhyme and carries around a raven wherever he goes. Again, a character that has no point in the grand scheme of things. And what is the grand scheme you may ask? Well, you'll only get the privilege of knowing that if you can actually stick around through the movie's interminable 96 minute runtime. Yes, it's only 96 minutes and yes it definitely is interminable even at that seemingly short length. In order to plaster Christopher Lee's name on the packaging Lee takes on a role with all of 30 seconds of screen time, featured in some sort of inane flashback.
Having gotten to about 75 minutes or so the movie soon recognizes that all it's done is follow Beth around while she speaks in her peppy Texas drawl and doesn't do much of anything except giggle. Writer/director Robin Hardy realizes that this movie hasn't gone anywhere and tries to fix it as fast as possible in the most hilarious ways imaginable. Kooky music from a 'Three Stooges' short could've been piped into the soundtrack in order to draw attention to the absurdity of how fast this movie turns from "Stranger in a strange land," to "Stranger in a strange land full of weirdo cannibal people," in around two minutes flat. Whoops, I just gave away the ending. Ah, screw it. I wish someone would've done that for me so I didn't have to sit through this mess.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
This Anchor Bay release comes on a 25-GB Blu-ray Disc and is packaged in a standard, eco-friendly Blu-ray keepcase. The back of the case indicates a Region A coding.
'The Wicker Tree' features all the hallmarks of a low-budget shoot. While there are moments with strong detail, like extreme character close-ups, much of the film looks soft by comparison. Faces do feature quite a bit of detail, but for some of the people in this film that may not be a good thing. There are quite a few hang-ups though. The movie is full of soft shots making the whole experience a very uneven one (kudos to the filmmakers if they were trying to convey the uneven feeling you get while watching the movie with their cinematography).
There's a skyline shot at the beginning which is ugly and hampered by noise. Banding constantly crops up killing the look of the bluish English sky. Textures seem washed out and fuzzy. Edges aren't as crisp as they could be. Much of the movie has that flat, digital feel to it. There's nothing overtly amazing about the way this looks on Blu-ray. Like the movie it's utterly forgettable.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is just as forgettable and average as the video presentation. Beth's signing, whether due to the actresses' own awful singing abilities or the sound design itself, usually sounds pretty bad. It's flat, toneless, and will leave you wondering just how this girl became a national phenomenon based on her signing abilities. Dialogue is soft (depending on your reaction to this movie that could be a good thing).
I couldn't take away one memorable thing from this soundtrack. There was some surround sound, not much though. The caws of the old coot's raven were far too loud for their own good. LFE was extremely light except for the movie's oh-so-scary music and some horse hooves here and there. All in all a very average, or slightly below average, soundtrack.
I didn't actively hate 'The Wicker Tree' which is why it doesn't find itself sitting in the zero star range. This movie simply doesn't have any sense, common or otherwise. It's completely lost in a sea of strange hillbillies and even stranger British hillbillies (is there such a group? There is now!). It's just so stupid and ineptly conceived that it's hard not to just sit back and laugh at it (not with it). Maybe if it didn't take itself so seriously it would be fun to sit down and watch, as it is now it's an incomprehensible mess of nonsense ending in one of the most unintentionally funny climaxes I've ever seen. Skip it, unless you have a very morbid sense of humor.