Saturday, November 9, 2013

The Wicker Man (1973)

There's seeds of an adventure, or perhaps an entire campaign, within this movie. If you haven't seen the original 1973 version of The Wicker Man, then I suggest you do so. 


The Plot: a police sergeant is sent to the Scottish village of Summerisle in search of a missing girl. There he discovers that the island inhabitants have developed some rather... shall we say... unorthodox customs. As his investigations continue (with little help from the island's strange populace), he discovers that the missing girl is part of an elaborate rite. 

The movie is a part Gothic horror, part mystery, even part musical (believe it or not). It has a way of lulling a viewer into a false complacency. It's not hard to see why. You've got beauties like Ingrid Pitt and Britt Ekland in this film. Even a younger Christopher Lee has his sonorous and lordly voice. There's folk music all the way through it. 

So what can be taken from this film for an RPG game?
--Villagers participating in a carnivalesque rite were they don animal masks and pop up in windows and over low walls to spy on the PCs. 
--Children leaping over the fire in the center of a stone circle.
--A drinking song: "The Landlord's Daughter."
--A labyrinthine series of caverns on the cliff overlooking the sea. 
--The whole movie is an example of how different religions interact. The denizens of Summerisle aren't evil, but they need their ritual to be successful or dire things will continue to happen to the island. 

My only problem: PCs won't be a determined as the main character in the film. At some point, they will realize that the village is against them and perhaps leave. The villagers would really have no incentive to keep the PCs there (unless the PCs threaten to come back with reinforcements).

Perhaps a good hook would be a cleric character investigating the recent disappearance of one of his brethren? Sort of like a "sequel" to the movie.

Overall, The Wicker Man is one of my favorite movies. I'm sure modern audiences might find the movie a bit slow going. But there's a seduction going on here, and it takes time. This kind of seduction often missing in modern horror films (such as in the 2006 remake starring Nicolas Cage). Believe me, the ending is worth the wait.

Travel Tip: Don't get mad if the villagers sing and dance while you die.
It's just their custom.

1 comment:

  1. I love this movie! I think you're right about pc's. You need a stronger hook to keep then around.


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