REVIEW: ‘Willy’s Wonderland’ Is a Must-Watch Fever Dream

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Willys Wonderland

Nic Cage is no stranger to making his audiences audibly let out a “WTF” during his films. Hyperviolence, 80s synth, animatronic animals, and some satanic cult rolled in is a simple way to list what you can expect from Willy’s Wonderland, Cage’s latest fever-dream of a film. Directed by Kevin Lewis and written by G.O. Parsons, in addition to Cage, the cast list includes Emily Tosta, Beth Grant, Jonathan Mercedes, Caylee Cowan, and Terayle Hill.

In Willy’s Wonderland, a quiet drifter, referred to as The Janitor (Cage), is tricked into a janitorial job at the now condemned Wally’s Wonderland. The mundane tasks suddenly become an all-out fight for survival against wave after wave of demonic animatronics. But completing his job of cleaning up the abandoned kid’s restaurant that is, in reality, a reskinned Chuck E Cheese with a birthday song to match, always comes first. As does playing some pinball and throwing back a beer.

This isn’t going to be a long review. That’s half because Willy’s Wonderland has some large elements that give away the film’s plot. And the other half of that is because Willy’s Wonderland is a simple fever-dream of a film: Nic Cage beats the absolute shit out of animatronic serial killers for the better part of an hour and a half. Sure, there is a plot, but that honestly doesn’t matter, and god am I thankful it doesn’t.

If there is an absurdity meter, Willy’s Wonderland cranks it all the way up to 11 and stays there as a stoic Cage entertains the audience with quirky behavior and brutality that needs no dialogue. In fact, somehow, a silent Nic Cage is just as intimidating and entertaining as a screaming one. While the film’s dialogue is absolutely off the rails, none of that really matters. If you grade the film on its story, it may fail, but if you grade it on what really counts, it passes with flying colors.

So let’s do that.

On gore, the film exceeds all B-horror standards, and the humorous impact each death has, makes the film engaging—even when it gets really weird. Honestly, some elements seem awkwardly placed, like a sex scene in the middle of an area where a satanic ritual was conducted and families were murdered. But yet, even with overly tropey characters and bad dialogue, I just don’t care. Instead, I’m enamored with the 80s synth backed beating of animatronics. In fact, the creepy animatronic design is legitimately terrifying, and every single one of them brings as much nightmare fuel as they can.

But Cage isn’t the only character who gets to have all the molly whopping fun. When a group of the town’s age-ambiguous but probably older teens/early twenties end up stuck in Willy’s Wonderland with The Janitor, Tosta’s character Liv winds up being more than capable of holding her own. While her presence and plotline isn’t the most memorable part of the film, Tosta does more than enough to add to the film and be endearing.

The entirety of the film sings because there really is nothing better to watch on your couch on a Friday night in the pandemic with libations than Willy’s Wonderland. It’s erratic, hilarious, and just the right amount of unhinged Nic Cage to get things right. Sure, I’d change somethings but this fever-dream needs to be seen.

Willy’s Wonderland is available to stream on VoD now.

Willy's Wonderland
  • 6/10
    Rating - 6/10
6/10

TL;DR

The entirety of the film sings because there really is nothing better to watch on your couch on a Friday night in the pandemic with libations than Willy’s Wonderland. It’s erratic, hilarious, and just the right amount of unhinged Nic Cage to get things right. Sure, I’d change somethings but this fever-dream needs to be seen.