Horror Comedy ‘Willy’s Wonderland’ is a Fun but Flawed Nic Cage Bonanza

Sommerleigh Pollonais, Horror Head Writer

Plot: A quiet drifter is tricked into a janitorial job at the now-condemned family entertainment centre Willy’s Wonderland. The mundane tasks suddenly become an all-out fight for survival against wave after wave of demonic animatronics. Fists and fur fly, kicks land, titans clash, and only one side will make it out alive. Figuratively speaking.

Review: I think I’ve said this before, but just in case you missed it, I’m a Nic Cage fan. And as a fan of this man I’ve learned to always expect the unexpected. So when I saw he was starring in a movie that’s basically Cage vs Five Nights at Freddy’s (or for you non-gamers, let’s say, versus Chuck E. Cheese) there was no hesitation. I clicked yes please! So did Willy’s Wonderland give me the Cageisms I’m always hungry for? Oh yes it did! And was the movie good? Well…

Uh, honey. Maybe we should just go to McDonald’s

So let’s stick with the good stuff first. If you’re a weirdo like me, seeing what amounts to giant puppets killing and maiming people left and right will put an evil grin on your face. The design choices for Willy and his demonic companions called Siren Sara, Cammy the Chameleon, Tito the Turtle, Arty the Alligator, Knighty Knight, Gus the Gorilla, and Ozzie the Ostrich, are all the stuff of nightmares. Even if these things WEREN’T possessed, they would be terrifying, and I honestly don’t know what child would want to celebrate their birthday with these monstrosities. The movie also doesn’t waste time getting to the gory stuff, which I always appreciate in these types of films. We don’t need much character development or backstory; we just want to see puppet mayhem. And that’s where Nicolas Cage comes in.

Cage plays The Janitor (yep, that’s his credited name) and guess what? He never says a word. NOT ONE WORD the entire runtime, and it totally works! He was the mystery man who just dispatched these demons and gave zero effs in the process. I had a blast watching Cage do his thing (all facial expressions, zero screaming) and I have a strong feeling he was the one who suggested his character never speak. It added to his mystery, and as a viewer I sat there coming up with half a dozen backstories as to who or what The Janitor was. A vengeful father? An archangel sent to deliver heavenly justice? A drifter with super strength? I still don’t know anything about him, but I had a blast trying to figure this guy out.

PA: Are you all right Mr Cage? NC: I’m fine. Just practicing my lines. PA: But Mr Cage, you don’t have any lines. NC: I’m practicing not saying my lines. Who the hell are you? Could you just get out of my face? Idiot!

Now let’s get into the not-so-good stuff, and I’ll start with the worst of them all—the other actors. To be fair, not everyone here was awful. Beth Grant (Donnie Darko, Speed, and Little Miss Sunshine) as Sheriff Lund held her own. You may not know her by name, but I’m sure a lot of you will recognise her face. The lady is a seasoned actor and she does just fine here. Everyone else sadly ranged from okay to downright awful. The rest of the cast is made up mostly of young actors pretending to be teenagers, and every time they popped up in a scene all the fun energy I had built up from watching Nic Cage do his thing got sucked right out the room.

Then there’s also the aspects of the movie that suffered from the small budget. It’s one location, which isn’t necessarily a problem, but it isn’t utilised as well as it could’ve been, and I was also disappointed that most of the kills were hard to see due to the frenzied camerawork. A movie such as this one should have tons of blood and gore. Comedic horror like this works best when you elevate the kills to ridiculous levels (think Tucker and Dale vs Evil) and I just wished they would’ve been more inventive with that aspect.

Welcome to your doom

Overall though, I had fun with this one. I mean seriously, if you’re watching a movie like Willy’s Wonderland and expecting James Cameron’s Aliens, you only have yourself to blame. I knew this was a low brow, low-budget horror comedy going in and I set my expectations thusly. It’s not gonna win any awards and I honestly don’t see myself watching it again (well, maybe one more time with friends). Still, if you’re a fan of the Cage man and you don’t have anything better to watch, why not spend some time at Willy’s Wonderland. Did I mention one of the puppets gets kicked in the puppet balls over and over again? Who wouldn’t want to see that!

Sommer’s Score: 5.5 out of 10

So how was your visit to Willy’s Wonderland? For more Nic Cage you can check out my review of Jiu Jitsu here or Featured Writer Alice’s review of Color Out of Space here.

2755F829-2EEC-4A68-B6F7-F963F48C9D92 Sommerleigh of the House Pollonais. First of Her Name. Sushi Lover, Queen of Horror Movies, Comic Books and Binge Watching Netflix. Mother of two beautiful black cats named Vader and Kylo. I think eating Popcorn at the movies should be mandatory, PS4 makes the best games ever and I’ll be talking about movies until the zombie apocalypse comes.

Double Tap Baby!

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