The Wicker Man's Bees Prove That Its Ritual Failed – Theory Explained

The 2006 remake of The Wicker Man seemingly ends with the ritual being completed, but a detail regarding the island's bees could prove that it secretly failed. A remake of the 1973 film of the same name, which was itself based on the novel Ritual by David Pinner, The Wicker Man stars Nicolas Cage as Edward Malus in one of the actor's most unforgettable roles. Malus is summoned to a remote island inhabited by Neo-Pagans to search for a missing child, but he soon uncovers a troubling conspiracy and clues that point to ritual murder.


As The Wicker Man is a Nicolas Cage classic, its final scene is infamous. Malus is tricked into attending the ritual where he learns that he is intended to be the sacrifice. The island's Neo-Pagans torture him with bees, and then put him inside the titular Wicker Man before burning him alive in a ritual that they believe will ensure a good harvest. Before killing Malus, they explain that he was chosen due to his connection to the community (he had a child with Sister Willow many years prior). The film ends with his death and the completion of the ritual.

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However, there are subtle clues that The Wicker Man's ritual may have actually failed. A key difference between the original Wicker Man and the remake is that the latter makes use of bees throughout its story: the bees are the lifeblood of the island, and Edward Malus just happens to be extremely allergic to them. These facts, combined with the details of the ritual revealed by Sister Summersisle, hint that the ritual may have actually failed because Malus was incompatible with the island and its customs.

Edward Malus Was The Wrong Choice For The Wicker Man's Sacrifice

nicolas cage the wicker man ending

Malus being allergic to the island's bees is perhaps the biggest piece of evidence in support of the theory. Summersisle explains that Edward was chosen as he's "connected by blood" - an incredibly loose claim, but arguably valid - and that is why he was chosen. However, as bees are the lifeblood of the island and Malus is deathly allergic, his blood is fundamentally incompatible with the island. Spilling Malus' blood in The Wicker Man's ending may well have invalidated the ritual entirely, as his blood and the island's bees clearly do not mix.

Of course, this incompatibility runs far deeper than Malus' allergy. Throughout the film, he repeatedly voices his disdain for the island's customs, and it's clear that he was not a willing sacrifice as Summersisle claims he is. This is yet another way in which Malus likely wasn't a valid sacrifice for the ritual, and therefore, according to the rules set out by the island's inhabitants, the ritual would have failed.

As The Wicker Man ends with Malus' death and the satisfaction of the Neo-Pagans, it's unclear whether the ritual actually worked. However, there are a number of minor details in the Nicolas Cage horror movie that would suggest it was unsuccessful, not the least of which is Malus' own lack of willingness and his allergy to the island's most important inhabitants. As The Wicker Man's protagonist is so fundamentally incompatible with the island and its inhabitants, it may be that the film's final ritual didn't actually work at all.