Nicolas Cage has enjoyed a long and illustrious screen career that’s now in its 40th year, but one of the longest-running debates revolving around the Academy Award-winning actor’s output is whether or not his 2006 remake of The Wicker Man was supposed to be as hilarious as it was.
The 1973 original is a classic folk horror, and with virtually every recognizable title being remade or reinvented at some point during the 2000s, it was inevitable that someone would take the plunge and return to Summerisle. Depending on how you feel, the pairing of Cage and Neil LaBute was either inspired, or disastrous.
The Wicker Man V2.0 was universally panned by critics and flopped at the box office, finding itself labeled as one of Cage’s worst films in the process. And yet, it’s gained a long-lasting second life as a cult favorite, based on how laughably terrible and bats*t crazy it is.
In an interview with IndieWire, Cage once again laid his cards on the table, claiming that The Wicker Man was always intended to make audiences laugh, as opposed to having them cower in fear.
“I know people had fun with that even if they thought the comedy was not intentional. I’m going on record right now: That is not a fact. Neil and I both knew how funny it was. It probably would’ve been more clear how funny it was if [producer] Avi Lerner let me have the handlebar mustache that I wanted to wear and be burned in the bear suit. That would’ve been so horrifying, but they didn’t go for that because all the comedy would’ve emerged from this horror. But Ari Aster did it brilliantly in Midsommar. That was terrifying, but they didn’t have the vision that Neil and I had for it.”
The jury remains out, but we’d be inclined to take Cage at his word. After all, the famously committed star wouldn’t have screamed so exuberantly about the bees and punched a woman in the face wearing a bear costume if he was planning to instill visceral terror in viewers.