Willy’s Wonderland

I never thought I’d live to see Nicolas Cage violently tune up a giant plush gorilla with a toilet plunger and curb stomp it’s head onto a urinal, but here we are. Willy’s Wonderland is an absolute bonkers blast, the kind of delirious, fucked up, funny as hell, gory as shit horror comedy I haven’t seen the likes of since the original Evil Dead. Now, I’m not sure what the rights or relationship situation is to the video game Five Nights At Freddy’s because this is clearly very much inspired by it, but that aside this finds it’s own demented groove, devilish mythology and wicked funny dark humour. Cage plays a mysterious, mute drifter who takes a night job cleaning a creepy, rundown Chuck E. Cheese restaurant to pay off a mechanic debt but it’s clear that the inbred yokels of this backwater enclave have a more sinister agenda, starting with the no nonsense sheriff (Beth Grant, Speed, Donnie Darko). Sure enough, the seemingly dormant animatronic toys are possessed by evil spirits and come to life at night with plans on killing Cage. What to do? He springs into silent but deadly action and beats the ever-loving fucking piss out of these loud mouthed Fisher Price rejects in what can only be described as an experience of pure unfiltered pandemonium. Meanwhile outside the restaurant a group of local kids prepares to pour gasoline and burn the place down in attempts to end the evil forever. This is Cage’s show and he’s a tornado of charisma even with no dialogue, guzzling down soda pop and dancing around pinball machines when he isn’t ruthlessly and violently decimating the animatronics, who all have interesting and creative designs from an ostrich to a medieval Knight to a Mexican mariachi turtle (lol) to Willy himself, a giant leering weasel with an elongated neck. The unnerving theme song and all of the musical numbers belted out by this demonic cabal of zoological burnouts are all written by experimental multi-musical artist Emoi and they all pop for a soundtrack that sets the cheeky tone perfectly. The story, although completely ludicrous, somehow feels engrossing and believable in a manic, bizarro world kind of way and every actor knows what kind of script they’ve been handed and does a terrific job with the humour. It is what it is man, if you came to see anything other than Nic Cage tangle with animatronics you’re gonna disappoint yourself but I’ll tell you this much: this could have been cheap lazy trash built around a gimmick they expected to sell itself. It isn’t. The gimmick is just the diving board, and the film itself is a genuinely well written, acted and executed piece that’s impressive and fun beyond being ‘just that crazy Nic Cage flick.’ It’s even legit scary in a few places, which is did NOT expect. So buckle up.

-Nate Hill