Nicolas Cage and horror always seemed like it would be an odd pair to me, but the proof is in the blood splatter that it works beautifully. So when the trailer for WILLY'S WONDERLAND - the latest outrageous horror comedy starring Cage - debuted I knew that if it was anything like Mandy, it was going to be a pretty good ride. We finally got the chance to sit down and check out the new flick - in which Cage literally doesn't say a word - and in true Nicolas Cage fashion, the film turned out to be a fucking blast. It's a film that's silly yet not so-over-the-top dumb that it becomes comical itself, which is important because while the film may be funny, the movie itself is not the joke. Movies like this always feel like they are either going to be a total hit or a total miss - there is no inbetween; the film is either going to be a brutally awesome killfest or it's going to be a boring-ass bust and a waste of time. Honestly, if you find yourself looking for something that's equal parts horror, comedy and even action, Willy's Wonderland would make for an excellent rental this Saturday night not so much because of the storyline, but because of the creatures/characters you are faced with, the over-the-top response from Cage's character and the cool-and-collected temperament he maintains the entire movie. Willy's Wonderland - written by G. O. Parsons and directed by Kevin Lewis - feels Five Nights at Freddy's on the big screen, and it feels like the concept translated better to film that anyone probably would have imagined. This movie is proof that almost forty years later, Cage still more than delivers with whatever project he involves himself in.
Nicolas Cage's character - whose name is never even revealed because he doesn't talk - is driving down the road in a small and quiet Nevada town when he ends up with a flat tire and a sketchy mechanic who only takes cash and doesn't have a working atm. Instead of taking him to a working atm, the mechanic suggests Cage go see his business man friend who can set him up with a job to help cover the cost of repairs. So Cage is taken to Willy's Wonderland - a Chuck E Cheese type of family fun restaurant that hosts birthday parties with animatronic animals - where he is given the job of cleaning up the place overnight while the car gets repaired. Cage takes the job and becomes The Janitor, and gets to work right away on cleaning the place up. But it isn't long until the things of nightmares happens: the eight animatronic characters come to life and try to kill Cage!! For better or for worse, a group of teens show up who give Cage the lowdown on the history of Willy's, why the place is so fucked up, and to try and get him to leave. But in true Cage fashion, he is unphased by the bloodthirsty animatronics and absolutely slaughters them one by one in between cleaning and rounds of pinball. When things take an ugly turn for the animatronics, the sheriff makes it sound like its more so an ugly turn for the town! Will the Janitor survive the night and make it out of Willy's Wonderland alive, or will he be consumed in the restaurant - another victim of the killer animatronics in the towns dark history? Find out in... WILLY'S WONDERLAND!
If you are expecting a serious horror out of this movie, kindly move along; Willy's Wonderland is honestly pretty ridiculous at times, namely when he's beating the absolute fucking piss out of the eight animatronic villains he's up against inside of the restaurant. However, it is very important to note that at no point during the film does it feel cheesy, campy, tacky, whatever - honestly, it's quite the opposite. The movie is beautifully shot with a decent little storyline to accompany it, it's just that the action scenes can get pretty wild! The animatronic villains themselves are pretty fucking awesome, too: Willy Weasel, Gus Gorilla, Cammy Chameleon, Tito Turtle, Siren Sara, Knighty Knight, Arty Alligator, and Ozzie Ostrich. The story of how they came to be possessed animatronics with a bloodlust is pretty funny and honestly just adds to the ridiculousness of the film overall. But it has to be acknowledged how fluid and realistic the eight character suits move and operate; I think that's a big part of why this movie doesn't feel lame and cheesy, the animatronics walk around, talk, respond and fight so realistically that you don't feel like you're watching some lame guy in a suit. When it comes to that, the team behind the film absolutely knocked it right out of the park and I think even haters of the film have to admit to that. Besides Nic Cage as the Janitor, the rest of the human characters are honestly quite forgettable and don't really add any sort of substance to the movie besides moving dialogue and basic story plots; you unfortunately won't even miss them if they die off in the film. But seeing Nicolas Cage come in and savagely beat and destroy the animatronics into little piles of robot parts is kinda horrifyingly satisfying. I think the choice to not make him have any dialogue was interesting and honestly, it doesn't hinder the movie at all; he's really only there to kick the shit out of the robots... well, that and clean the place up I guess. The rest of the characters pretty much move the storyline as Cage is the muscle behind the destruction, and it works so well.
There's really not a whole lot to not like about the movie, as there's not really much disappointment to come out of Willy's Wonderland (like most Cage films). If you know what you're going into and you know it's not serious, the film will be a magical journey back to your childhood when the animatronic band at Chuck E Cheese or Showbiz Pizza - except, these robot animals want to split your skull open! I think the film was executed perfectly for the way the story is told and the events that transpire, and if you're in the mood to see Nicolas Cage just kick the life out of some robots, this film has got you covered. Is it worth the $15 price that it was originally listed at for a rental? Honestly, no - but if you can find it on sale for five to ten bucks, I'd say it's worth your cash; I don't think you'd be disappointed with it. Check it out!