I had almost forgotten I requested that movie until the e-mail arrived notifying me that I could pick it up. Since I requested it around the time that the remake came out, the line of holds ahead of me was more than unusually long. By the time I had the DVD in my hand, I had pretty much forgotten why I actually wanted to see it. And when I read the pull quotes on the case, I almost took it straight back.
I've already established that scary movies are not my thing. And yet, I apparently decided that on a Saturday night, home alone, it was a good idea to watch a movie about which the critics had these things to say:
"Harrowing, absorbing, eerie and erotic... A must-see!"
"A modern horror masterpiece."
"Witty and scary! No one who sits through it to the end is likely to find it easy to shake off."
And my personal favorite:
"The 'Citizen Kane' of horror films."
Um, I do not at all like horror films. Exactly why would I think watching the 'Citizen Kane' of one was a good idea?
I watched it anyway, irrational terror be damned. Knowing my history with horror films, though, I tried to set it up to ensure as little trauma as possible. I deliberately started it early enough in the night that I'd be able to stay up for at least two episodes of Freaks and Geeks on DVD afterward, should I need something to clear my head. I even gave myself a pathetic little pep-talk as I went downstairs to put in a load of laundry. Worried that I'd be too scared after the movie to retrieve my clothes from the dryer, I looked around my basement saying, "You're not scared now... There's nothing and no one here that's going to hurt you or creep you out, and there won't be after the movie, either. If you're not scared now, you needn't be an hour and a half from now, either."
Yes, I really talk to myself. Quite regularly, in fact. But we've already covered that, I believe.
Anyway, all of this prepping proved unnecessary after all, as The Wicker Man was, in fact, probably the least scary horror movie I've seen in my life. Bizarre and a tad unsettling, yes. Scary, no. After all, how frightening can a movie be when it's part horror, part musical? How much fear can rural pagan villagers incite when a few scenes earlier they were dancing naked around a fire in broad daylight while Scottish folk songs played in the background?
The nakedness was probably what surprised me most about the film (I did get it at the library, after all, and I had no idea the library was the go-to place for softcore porn), but in retrospect, it's actually the part I should have been expecting all along. As I said earlier, it wasn't the 2006 remake of this film that made me curious enough to check it out. It was actually an old episode of Coupling. Specifically, it was the one about Patrick's extensive... video collection, titled "The Cupboard of Patrick's Love." In that episode, Steve, Jeff, and Patrick recall Britt Ekland in The Wicker Man as one of their most memorable formative crushes. They didn't get into specifics, and at the time, I'd heard of neither Britt nor her most famous role, so the reference was lost on me. But when she started singing in her bed topless and then got up to dance with the walls like a provincial showgirl, that episode came rushing back.
As I put the DVD back in its case, I looked back at the pull quotes again. "The 'Citizen Cane' of horror films," said Cinefantastique. And that's when I realized there are at least two distinctly different ways to interpret a quote like that. I took it to mean "best of the best; the greatest within its genre." I forgot, for a minute, that to non-critics like me, that quote is actually an excellent way of calling something wholly bizarre and overrated and inexplicably more popular than is warranted.
In all fairness, I haven't seen Citizen Kane in years, so maybe I should refresh my memory before I disagree with every major film critic on record. I'm pretty sure I'm done with The Wicker Man, however. One viewing of these guys was, I think, more than quite enough.