Their arrival at Tressock, Scotland, is met more warmly than Sergeant Howie’s (Edward Woodward) investigation, but in some ways their evangelism is a more direct threat to the insular community at Tressock. The happy couple do not know it, but it is clear to everybody but them that they are intruding strangers and not guests to be welcomed, except to fulfill their ceremonial roles. The strength of their faith blinds them to growing threats around them, renders clues to their fate meaningless, and leads them right into the spot the cultists want them.
So, it’s not really a surprise what happens to the happy couple. Hardy calls this film a dark comedy, and the sheer obliviousness of Beth Boothby is a good source of chuckles when her blind parroting of religious cliché fails to get a laugh. Britannia creates Beth closer to a satirical character you might find on The Kids in the Hall than in Dominion. The two of them are such cartoons that it is hard to sympathize with them and actually feel any of the chills the original film invoked. Actually, it's closer to The Rocky Horror Picture Show than you might expect.
That is the overall problem — the film’s many attempts at humor detract from what could have been an effective build of suspense. I suppose this is like an arty version of an unsuccessful Sam Raimi movie; the director is having so much fun goofing around that the thread of the whole picture is lost in gags. Likewise, the film loses the erotic edge that the raw depiction of pagan sex gave The Wicker Man. The unwed cowboy couple is less threatened by casual sex than the prudish police Sergeant. The Wicker Man had the advantage of arriving at the end of an age of sexual revolution, unfortunately, The Wicker Tree can only look back on that with a sense of nostalgia or mockery. In 2010, Hardy's script finds nothing liberating about the worship of fertility gods, nor is there anything shocking.
Much like the first film, the missteps are something to wonder about. Robin Hardy has a keen sense of visuals and has crafted a bit of cinema that is worthy of much more than the finished film offers. Some of the cinematography by Jan Pester is inspired and creates a visual conjuring of the pagan spirit, the compositions are deliberate and the palette tightly controlled. For the most part, the editing by Sean Barton is invisible but effective. There are a few cuts which announce themselves, anachronisms from the style of the original film which are more jarring than effective.