Police Sergeant Neil Howie (Edward Woodward) receives a letter from an unknown person giving him details about a young girl currently missing on Summerisle, a Scottish island. He decides to travel to Summerisle by plane and investigate the recent disappearance by questioning community members and observing.
However, most people within the village claim they are unaware of any missing children, but that doesn’t stop the Sergeant’s investigation. As he continues to question and sightsee, he suspects the people in the community are lying or hiding something. He begins even to suspect that there is something more sinister under the surface, including strange rituals taking place. Can the Sergeant find the truth about the missing girl and discover what is happening on the island?
The Wicker Man includes crime, thriller, mystery, fantasy and, most importantly, horror. The mystery begins the instant we see the Sergeant fly to the island and begin his investigation. The mystery only grows into something unexpected and deeply horrifying to experience. The audience shares the Sergeant’s surprise at the disturbing details he discovers, and at no point did I feel bored. It’s effortless for viewers to support the lead.
The atmosphere is a significant strength of why this film works wonderfully. Everything on the screen looks great, and moments of horror are captured perfectly. The soundtrack includes various moments of folk music, which at first felt out of place for me, but the more the movie progressed, the more I found it suitable. Performances are great all around, including from Edward Woodward and Christopher Lee. Even the side performers commit. Watching the lead character walk around the island, observing people carrying on their everyday lives is fun.
Overall, this is a must-watch for any cinephile. It’s a fun mystery that starts instantly, and as the film progresses, some moments are bizarre, unsettling and baffling on the first watch. Great performances are plentiful here, especially from Edward Woodward and Christopher Lee. I admired all the side actors, who committed completely, in return, making everything on-screen feel believable, mysterious, and quirky. While somewhat random, the musical numbers heightened the uncomfortable experience, and the filming style is praiseworthy. Naturally, the ending is surprising, and it’s almost impossible to forget the entire cinematic journey.