'The Wicker Man' Truth And Stories: Early Folk Horror Was 1973's 'Midsommar'

By | June 1, 2020

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Friendly pagan folk in 'The Wicker Man.' Source: IMDB

In 1973 The Wicker Man combined the gothic undertones of Hammer Horror and the terror inherent with going off the beaten path to create a genre defining folk horror film. The film was pushed into production without an actual budget in place and when all was said and done the studio detested the film and marketed it like a B movie.

In spite of its inauspicious start at the box office The Wicker Man took on an almost mythic quality. Cult movie audiences frothed at the mouth over the pagan overtones of the film and its bleak ending. Nearly 50 years after its release, The Wicker Man is still one of the most spellbinding cinematic experiences to ever come out of England. It stands as a classic of folk horror, a genre that continues to flourish with the 2019 release Midsommar.

‘The Wicker Man’ is about the hunted leading the hunter

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source: british lion films

The film follows police sergeant Howie (played by Edward Woodward), a devout Christian, who travels to a Scottish Island in search of a missing young woman. As Howie delves further into the mystery of the island he grows suspicious of the locals and discovers that they’re deeply sexual pagans.

After his mettle is tested by a young blonde woman named Willow, played by Britt Ekland, who tries to seduce him, he meets Lord Summerisle, played by Christopher Lee. Initially the islanders are quirky but as the film goes on it’s clear that something disturbing is happening in this small village.

The climax of the film leads Howie (and the audience) into a trap that’s still surprising now even if you can see all of the hints being laid out throughout the early parts of the movie. The entire film is masterful, but it’s the final sequence that will take up real estate in your mind.