Willy’s Wonderland (USA, 2021)

Nicolas Cage wages a new kind of war in this insane horror-comedy that melds elements from one of the most popular video games today to a classic 80’s horror film.

A mysterious man drives and gets a flat tire. He gets towed to the nearby town of Hayesville, where there’s no internet and not much else. When he can’t afford to pay to get his car fixed, he is given an opportunity to work it off. Meeting Tex Macadoo, the man is given a job to work as a janitor in an abandoned place known as Willy’s Wonderland. All he needs to do is clean up and spend the night.

Once he arrives there, he begins to clean up the place. He does begin to notice something very strange there. The animatronic puppets are slowly coming to life. And they want the Janitor. However, this is one man who will not take anything from anyone and he begins to fight off the crazed puppets. Soon enough, a group of teens, led by Liz, lets the Janitor in on a dark secret involving his new “job” and the place. The night soon becomes one of survival for the Janitor and the teens.

From the mind of writer G.O. Parsons, this film is the latest in the whole animatronic puppets coming to life as demented killers. It worked for The Banana Splits Movie and Child’s Play reboot in 2019 and it definitely works here. The film has that Five Nights of Freddy vibe (A FNAF adaptation is in the works as we speak.). The reason why this one works in particular is because of two words: Nicolas Cage. As the simply named “Janitor”, what many will find here is that Cage defines the term “action speaks louder than words” and with good reason: he doesn’t speak one word in the entire film!

You read that right. Cage’s character just smugs or gets so tempted to play that pinball machine he just dusted off. That’s when he’s not unleashing his own brand of mayhem against the animatronic puppets, who like The Banana Splits Movies, are played by human performers in costumes and voiced by other actors. What’s even more intriguing is that no one in the film seems likable. Not even female lead Liz, played by Emily Tosta, seems to give off these bad vibes. And yet, we empathize with her when she sees first hand what the Janitor is capable of.

The actors in the puppet suits combined with the voice acting talent is amazing. Notably besides big bad leader Willy the Weasel is Siren Sara, who looks like a combination of Inside Out’s Joy and Tinkerbell on drugs and Tito the Turtle, who speaks Spanish and gives off some funny lines. What’s even more insane with these characters are that they are the result of a Child’s Play (the original 1988 film)-style Satanic ritual all because the original staff were a band of serial killers, led by Killer Klowns from Outer Space’s Grant Cramer. Speaking of Child’s Play, look out for Beth Grant, who played the teacher who got a bashing from a ruler-wielding Chucky in Child’s Play 2, as the town’s sheriff.

Willy’s Wonderland is one night of insanity where we get a non-verbal Nic Cage, a group of teens, and some wild and crazy animatronic puppets dealing in death and mayhem. This is one fun place indeed!

WFG RATING: A+

Screen Media Films presents a JD Entertainment production in association with Landafar Entertainment, Landmark Studio Group, and Saturn Films. Director: Kevin Lewis. Producers: Nicolas Cage, Grant Cramer, Jeremy Daniel Davis, Bryan Lord, Mike Nilon, and David Ozer. Writer: G.O. Parsons. Cinematography: David Newbert. Editing: Ryan Liebert.

Cast: Nicolas Cage, Emily Tosta, Beth Grant, Ric Reitz, Chris Warner, Kai Kadlec, Caylee Cowan, Jonathan Mercedes, Terayle Hill, Christian Delgrosso, David Sheftell, Jiri Stanek, Jessica Graves Davis, Taylor Towery, Chris Schmidt Jr., Chris Bradley, Duke Jackson, Billy Bussey, B.J. Guyer, Grant Cramer.

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