By EW Staff
Updated August 10, 2006 at 04:00 AM EDT
Wicker Man: Masa Sato

Neil LaBute knows that for nostalgists, remake can be a dirty word. So as he gears up for the release of his own take on the cult-fave ’70s creepster, about a cop (now played by Nicolas Cage) investigating the disappearance of a girl on a remote island, he’s logged a fair amount of time on the Web. ”I’ve read postings of fans saying ‘Oh, my God, how can you do this?’ I understand, it’s a weird thing. But I come from theater and I see new productions of my plays all over the place. So the idea of taking somebody’s movie and saying ‘I’m going to take this in a new direction’ doesn’t seem sacrilegious to me.”

Inspired by Edgar Allan Poe stories and mood pieces like The Shining, LaBute set out to ”create something that’s not just gory and grisly but legitimately unnerving.” On LaBute’s island, Ellen Burstyn replaces Christopher Lee as the imperious leader who stares down Cage’s earnest outsider when he comes poking around. ”I think the original protagonist was very hard to like,” begins LaBute. But then, abruptly, the phone goes dead. He calls back seconds later. ”Apparently, the makers of the original put a hex on my cell phone.”