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Early hype will quickly go up in smoke; THE WICKER MAN N/A 12A.

FIRST they hid Snakes On A Plane from the critics. Now it's the turn of The Wicker Man, kept under wraps here and in America until it is presented to the paying public.

With no advance warning 1 available, I can only offer the basic info that might help you decide whether or not it's worth your hard-earned cash. First of all, it's a remake. The 1973 original is a bit over-rated. Its initial shock value has faded over time and, although it contains one of Christopher Lee's best performances, it looks dated and hippy-dippy.

It's the textbook example of a cult film, with a small bunch of fans shouting loudly in its favour while the rest of us remember it fondly but move on to something else.

The new version stars Nicolas Cage, always a love-him-or-hate-him proposition. He plays a Bible-believing cop who's sucked into the weird ways of a pagan cult when he investigates the disappearance of a little girl on a remote island.

Scottish fans will bristle at the thought of the story shifting to America - but it's Hollywood money, so what do you expect?

More serious is the gender change from Lee's Lord Summerisle to Ellen Burstyn's Sister Summerisle, head of a female cult. Then there's the strange 12A rating for a horror movie.

The most interesting thing about the remake could well be that it is directed by Neil LaBute.

His acidic touch is at its best in indie dramas In The Company Of Men and Your Friends And Neighbours. Perhaps LaBute will bring an edgy approach to the story.

Then again, think of Motorcycle Diaries director Walter Salles' duff remake of Dark Water - a case of a terrific filmmaker being the wrong man for mainstream horror material.

Despite the image on the posters, audiences may have no burning desire to see this film.

CAPTION(S):

GAMBLE: Nicolas Cage
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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Sep 1, 2006
Words:314
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