Willy’s Wonderland is a stupid film, not a fun, stupid horror that is just a pointless film trying to piggyback on a tired videogame, utterly terrible that without people enjoying it “ironically” would be tossed into the please forget me pile.
Stranded in a remote town with a car that won’t work and no way to pay the local repair shop, The Janitor (Nic Cage) 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. Survive at any cost; it’s only one night!
Willy’s Wonderland is not a good film, and anyone who says otherwise is lying to you. Nic Cage is not great in this film; again, everyone who says otherwise to you is lying. This isn’t a film that evokes the greatness of B-movies; it is just a terrible film. The fact that a low budget short film did better (The Hug) than all of Willy’s Wonderlands 80 odd minutes should speak volumes, but no. Here we are with a movie people are pretending is amazing to make believe that this is what fun horror should be in the 2020′.s It’s not, it is far from it, and we should stop pretending like it is.
The premise of this mess of a film begins with the fact that “The Janitors” (ugh) car breaks down, and the mechanic only takes cash and tries to have him work in Willy’s Wonderland for the night to pay off the debt. He should just say no, take me to a cash machine at a nearby town or calls a taxi to the nearest place to get said money. Stupid, just utterly stupid, and I watched and loved a film about possessed jeans killing people in a clothing store. Also, can we spare a minute to talk about the sets? They are just not very good and reek of a film that is so low budget that isn’t concerned in the slightest in showing you that it is a set. Making it a tad dirty (and then clean isn’t hiding the obviousness, folks.
There is next to no tension in Willy’s Wonderland; one of the animatronics try to kill him, he beats a furry robot to death and just continues cleaning… No reaction to what just happened, other than just duck taping supposed injuries he carries on as if someone just held him up for a second. Why isn’t he reacting to what happened? Shouldn’t he be doing anything to signify the importance of what just happened to him? Why is he still cleaning? Why hasn’t he left? What. Is. Going. On.
This causes any sense of risk or suspense to dissipate into the netherworld, never to return. Horror, even silly horror, has a base of suspense to it; even Evil Dead does this; it is vital to a genre film, no matter how “fun, light and crazy” it is meant to be. With a script that just doesn’t work and gives not a single ounce of originality within it leaving us with a lazy script that never hides the poorness of its movie. Throughout, you sit there wondering why a film could be so thematically inept.
With what human characters we have, only one has the motivation to destroy Willy’s; her friends just seem to tag along for the ride. Two of them, who knows exactly what bloody happened in that building, decide that they are horny and “freaky” and must have sex immediately. What? No… Stop… Please? The poor reasoning as to why the building is still there and why people still live there mystifies. If your town is haunted by Willy and his crew, just leave. Get out of there and let the next sucker deal with it. Why would you stay for 20 years!? The lack of depth to this script and the lack of arcs make no sense and, at worst, show how uninterested anyone in this film was in making it remotely good.
Our animatronics are also not very good at getting the job done. One scene has a character push The Janitor against the wall and hug him a lot before he is disposed of within 15 seconds. Imagine this rinse and repeat for each “baddie”, and the very tough formula has been revealed to be nothing more than just ugh. Nothing works, and the idea that this is meant to be funny falls flat on its face when nothing good happens. There are many expectations that this will be great, yet we are hindered by having the creatures put away so quickly. The action is non-existent, and the fact that the film does so little is actually pretty shocking.
Sure this is a nit-pick (this entire review is really, and for that, I apologise, I am not usually like this) because The Janitor doesn’t speak for the whole of the film. Usually, this would be okay; stern but silent characters are rife throughout cinema, and when they work, they work well. Not so here, my dear reader. The rest of the human cast feel that they can just veer off into monotonous expositional monologues to him and only occasionally (once) find it strange that he either ignores them or continues doing what he was doing; he just looks at him in ways only Nic Cage can.
Either this was a decision made in the script, or Cage wanted to see if he could get away with not saying anything and, considering he is a producer, have a guess which it might be. This is infuriating as one of the best parts of modern Nic Cage films is his intensity and screaming. Here we get the opposite of it: he had no energy left due to drinking all of those sodas. I am almost sure that Cage is a pinball enthusiast and wanted a specially made one for himself. When he saw it, he decided he wanted to play it in multiple (MULTIPLE) scenes to help elongate this thing’s runtime.
With the fights lasting less than a minute each, there isn’t much in actual action here. The character designs are great and one of the few pluses for Willy’s Wonderland, yet they ran out of their budget as one character is simply a person dressed as a fairy with a paper mache head-on. Everyone other than The Janitor is useless at fending off these things, making no sense in the slightest. Is he a secret superhero? Does he have super strength? How has no one beaten these paper-thin, weak robots in 20 years? Most importantly, I ask this question, what is in that spray that allows him to clean spray-paint and other dirt off so quickly?
The only fight that lasts of any length is the final battle, which it should be. Then, The Janitor can freely attack Willy with sticks and a bag full of soda cans… I mean, this is obviously a film that isn’t taking itself seriously, but when it becomes just plain dumb, why should I enjoy it? Why should anyone? This still isn’t funny or fun, by the way, and if you think it is, you should be ashamed of yourself.
Willy’s Wonderland tries to play to the so bad its good crowd, forgetting the best thing about those types of films. These films are played out to be made as good as they could at the time and are not made with irony. Here this is played to be as on the nose as possible. But it never has the charm that it thinks it is meant to have.
This isn’t as bonkers as it wants or needs to be, and with Cage being basically anti-Cage here with his mannerisms (other than one pinball dance montage). If you’re going to watch a zany horror, watch Killer Klowns from Outer Space and ignore this nonsense. Horror should set itself to be better than this astonishes me, and I fear for the genre at times when this is allowed to get a pass. This is the loud music to cause a jump of horror. It isn’t needed and, in truth, not wanted.
INSIDE THE FUN (BEHIND THE SCENES)
COLOURFUL DARKNESS AND THE DEMON-ATRONS
WILLY’S WONDERLAND SET TOUR
Signature Entertainment Presents Willy’s Wonderland on Digital Platforms 12th April and DVD & Blu-ray on 19th April.
I am but a small website in this big wide world. As much as I would love to make this website a big and wonderful entity. That would bring in more costs. So, for now all I hope is to make Upcoming On Screen self sufficient. Well enough to where any website fees are less of a worry for me in the future. You can support the website below…
You can support us in a variety of ways (other than that wonderful word of mouth) and those lovely follows. If you are so inclined to help out then you can support us via Patreon, find our link here! We don’t want to ask much from you, so for now we have limited our tiers to £1.50 and £3.50. These will of course grow the more we plan to do here at Upcoming On Screen.
Thanks for reading, every view helps us out more than you would think (we have fragile egos). Until next time.