Police sergeant Neil Howie is called to an island village in search of a missing girl whom the locals claim never existed. Stranger still, however, are the rituals that take place there.
I believe in the life eternal, as promised to us by our Lord, Jesus Christ.
Mainland Sergeant Neil Howie (Edward Woodward) flies off to the remote Scottish island of Summerisle to investigate the disappearance of a 12 year old girl. What he finds is a culture steeped in Paganism, presided over by Lord Summerisle (Christopher Lee). Meeting static and indifference wherever he goes - and being driven to anger by the assault on his Christian beliefs - Howie is very much a man alone and most likely in grave danger?
Directed by Robin Hardy and adapted to screen by Anthony Shaffer from David Pinner's novel, Ritual, The Wicker Man is very much a cult masterpiece. The back stories to it could make a film all by itself, be it censor baiting, studio cuts, body doubles or just plain offending religious groups, it's a film that is well worth looking into via the top range home format releases.
From the moment Howie (a truly brilliant Woodward) lands at Summerisle everything seems off, there's a sinister atmosphere pervading the story. He is met by unnerving imagery wherever he goes, songs and rituals gnawing away at his senses, there's even eroticism deftly placed within the film's master plan. He doesn't know what's going on, and neither do we, this is a mystery right? There is after all a missing child to be found, right? But once Lord Summerisle (Lee also terrific) enters proceedings and ups his game, things unravel in edgy fashion, building up to the justifiably famous and harrowing finale.
Some modern horror fans may baulk at the lack of bloody carnage et al, but this is classic horror. A horror film bulging with intelligence and pulsing away with literate smarts. 9/10
British Lion Films, Warner Bros. Pictures by Robin Hardy, Anthony Shaffer, David Pinner.
Stars: Edward Woodward, Christopher Lee, Diane Cilento, Britt Ekland.
Genres: Horror, Mystery, Thriller
Keywords: scotland based on novel or book island virgin ritual investigation cult horror human sacrifice disappearance rural area paganism policeman cult film folk horror
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