Friends, just the other day the much anticipated horror comedy Willy’s Wonderland was released to video on demand and as I understand it a limited theatrical run. The film was directed by Kevin Lewis (The Method) from a screenplay by G.O. Parsons, who in fact attempted to raise enough funds for a feature film through a 2016 Indiegogo campaign. While the crowdfunding effort wasn’t able to raise enough money for Parsons to direct a movie, he did receive the funds to produce a short film entitled Wally’s Wonderland. It was back in October of 2019 that the script found itself in the hands of Nicolas Cage, who not only stars in Willy’s Wonderland but also acts as producer. I have read online that the iconic actor was attracted to the role of The Janitor in the movie because it was a character that never utters a single line throughout the entire runtime of 88 minutes. That is okay though because Cage’s over-the-top performance as an energy drink-swilling enigma is captivating. At no point is his past touched on but it is readily evident that wherever the Janitor has been before the movie begins – it has prepared him to combat a gang of murderous animatronics within a children’s restaurant.
The plot for Willy’s Wonderland is lean to say the least and it does suffer with a largely unsympathetic group of teenage characters – with most never quite breaking free from being simply fodder for Willy and his gang of animatronic monstrosities to slaughter. In particular there is one scene that in my humble opinion stretches suspension of disbelief, when two characters break from the group to become amorous – even though they know of the horrors and very real danger of the place. But as I have said already, the real draw of Willy’s Wonderland is to watch Nicolas Cage just having a blast with his role as the mysterious Janitor who is equally capable of mopping a floor of oil and blood as ripping the head off an animatronic assailant.
There is little time wasted in the set up of the movie, Cage’s car tires are shredded after running over an oddly placed set of road spikes upon driving into the backwater town of Hayesville – with the incident explained away by the town’s tow truck driver and mechanic (Chris Warner) as having been stolen by the local kids as a prank. And while it will be no trouble to fix the stranger’s vehicle, the insistence of only accepting cash instead of plastic in payment, leads Cage’s character to accept an agreement with Tex Macadoo (Ric Reitz) – to spend the evening cleaning up his closed children’s restaurant and in the morning the car will be delivered all fixed up and ready to go. Left out of the agreement is that the Janitor is expected to be a sacrifice to the likes of Willy the Weasel, Arty the Alligator, Siren Sara, Cammy the Chameleon, Tito the Turtle, Ozzie the Ostrich, Gus the Gorilla, and Knighty Knight.
The Janitor however isn’t exactly alone as it first seems as a young woman named Liv (Emily Tosta), who has a personal connections to the horrors of the former family spot, arrives with her group of friends determined to end the evil of Willy’s Wonderland once and for all. Although Cage’s character may not show any signs of appreciation or even concern for the unsolicited warning about the dark history of the place. But will anyone survive once the sun has set and Willy and his friends spring to life in search of unwary victims?
Willy’s Wonderland has some nice effects and is filled with some dark laughs and plenty of action and bloody carnage. It is not a perfect film by any means but if you are looking for a popcorn movie that you can just sit back and enjoy – it should fit the bill. I suppose it depends on how much you like Nicolas Cage but I feel he most definitely is able to carry the film – although if you are looking for true frights or even jump scares you might be disappointed.