DIRECTED BY: Kevin Lewis
STARRING: Nicolas Cage, Emily Tosta, Beth Grant, David Sheftell, Kai Kadlec, Caylee Cowan, Terayle Hill, Christian Delgrosso, Jonathan Mercedes, Ric Reitz, Chris Warner, Grant Cramer, Chris Padilla, Olga Cramer, Émoi, Jessica Graves Davis, Madisun Leigh, Abel Arias, Mark Gagliardi, Christopher Bradley and Duke Jackson
A quiet drifter is tricked into a janitorial job at the now condemned Wally’s Wonderland. The mundane tasks suddenly become an all-out fight for survival against wave after wave of demonic animatronics.
Stranded in a remote town with a car that won’t work and no way to pay the local repair shop, The Janitor agrees to spend the night in an abandoned theme park full of animatronic characters that were once a joy to the kids of the town, but now hold a dark secret. As night falls, these once happy mascots come to life and they’re out for blood.
Willy’s Wonderland is a horror-comedy written by G.O. Parsons and directed by Kevin Lewis. The film focuses on an unknown drifter whose car runs over a spike strip in the middle of nowhere. With no cash on hand to pay for the repairs in the remote town of Hayesville, Nevada, he is offered to do a nightshift janitor stint at the once successful family entertainment business known as Willy’s Wonderland by the owner to clean up the place in an attempt to reopen and in return he’ll cover the cost of the repairs for the car. However at night, ‘The Janitor’ learns that not only do the animatronics within the restaurant come to life, but he has been stitched up to serve as a sacrifice for them. As a group of teens arrive at Wally’s with their own agenda, they team up with the janitor in an attempt to survive until morning and put Willy’s Wonderland out of business forever.
It’s no secret that Nicolas Cage is an enigma when it comes to the next film that he appears in, we’re not to sure what to expect other than he’ll provide a performance that will either be applauded or mocked, maybe a mixture of both. With his recent filmography (Mandy and Color Out Of Space), Nicolas Cage seems to be carving out into an era we might look back on as cult classics (debatable of course), and rest assured Willy’s Wonderland is going to fall into that category. While I’m sure people who viewed the promotional trailers and spots for the film were hoping for some trademark Cage madness, it’s odd to see that his performance is more restrained than we’ve seen in quite some time, after all he doesn’t have a single line of dialogue in this film, yet we still get to see Cage rage when he tackles Willy Weasel and company. With an overall production budget of $5m, the sequences involving the killer animatronics I thought were used quite well, particularly as each have their own characteristics, with the obvious ones standing out being Ozzie Ostrich, Sirena Sara and Willy Weasel, and the one I question why they thought it would be a good idea to have around as a thing for kids to like, Cammy Chameleon, as that thing looked the creepiest out of them all.
While everything involving Cage i loved, from his wrist watch clock beeping every so often for him to take a break and have a can of Punch and to him appearing completely unfazed by the fact he’s locked in a building with killer animatronics as if he’s been down this road before, the rest however will depend on viewer preference. If you watch the trailer and base it solely on Cage going nuts on some killer animatronics then you’ll at least consider yourself whelmed, but if you can in hoping to have characters to care and root for, then you’ll more than likely be disappointed. The group of teenagers who arrive at Willy’s with the sole purpose of burning the place down, especially with one of them experiencing the horrors of Willy’s Wonderland as a child, are for the most part stereotypes, one-dimensional as if we’re back in a 80’s horror ensemble. However, outside of Emily Tosta’s Liv Hawthorne, who I thought gave a good performance in the role, the majority of the cast are that to serve one purpose: be cannon fodder for the animatronics and some of the deaths are brutally captured. Coming in at under an hour and a half runtime, the film is an absolute breeze, given us fifteen-twenty minutes of setup and then just becoming a blast.
Willy’s Wonderland knows what kind of film it is and commits to the concept, with a vocally restrained yet frenetic performance as ‘The Janitor’ by Nicolas Cage, I had a joyous time with it. An absolute guilty pleasure.