Tuesday, October 4, 2022

#2,827. Willy's Wonderland (2021)


Nicolas Cage doesn’t utter a word in 2021’s Willy’s Wonderland. Aside from the occasional grunt (usually after polishing off a can of Punch soda), Mr. Cage is silent throughout this movie. Yet in his eyes, and through his actions, we see the Nic Cage we’ve come to know and love over the years. The intense Nic Cage. “Crazy” Nic Cage. And it’s to screenwriter G.O. Parsons’ and director Kevin Lewis’s credit that the movie itself is just as insane as its lead actor.

With all four of his tires flat, a Loner (Cage) finds himself stranded in the small town of Hayesville, Nevada. To help pay for the repairs, he agrees to work as the night janitor of Willy’s Wonderland, an abandoned family entertainment center owned by local businessman Tex Macadoo (Ric Reitz).

But what the Loner doesn’t know is that the eight animatronic mascots of Willy’s, including Arty Alligator (Christopher Bradley), Ozzie Ostrich (B.J. Guyer and Abel Arias), Siren Sara (Jessica Graves), and Willy himself (Jiri Stanek), are alive. What’s more, they’re thirsty for blood!

Legend has it that, years ago, a group of serial killers worked at Willy’s, and would lure families into the back room with the promise of cake and presents, then slaughter these unsuspecting victims in brutal fashion. Realizing the authorities were closing in, the killers performed a Satanic ritual that transferred their consciousness into Willy’s robotic animal band, and with the help of the complicit locals, including Tex and even the sheriff (Beth Grant), travelers passing through town have been offered as sacrifices to the evil animatronics on a regular basis.

The Loner was to be their newest prey, but with the help of teenager Liv (Emily Tosta), whose parents were killed at Willy’s Wonderland years earlier, he instead takes the fight to Willy and his pals. But can he and his new friend survive the night?

Nicolas Cage is at his badass best as the silent Loner who not only cleans Willy’s from top to bottom, but also decimates its animatronic mascots. After wiping the graffiti and grime off the walls and toilets in the men’s room, the Loner slaughters Gus Gorilla (Billy Bussey and Mark Gagliardi) in a manner you won’t soon forget.

Of course, not all of the blood spilled in Willy’s Wonderland flows from the “lovable” animals; Liv initially brings pals Aaron (Christian Del Grosso), Chris (Kai Kadlec), Kathy (Caylee Cowan), Bob (Terayle Hall), and Dan (Jonathan Mercedes) along to rescue the Loner, only to see each one mauled to death, starting with Aaron, who is run through with a sword wielded by Willy’s buddy Knighty Knight (Duke Jackson).

This all sounds pretty absurd, doesn’t it? Well, it is. Willy’s Wonderland is batshit crazy from start to finish, and more than once the action and violence go way over the top. But if you turn yourself over to it completely, I’m betting you’ll have as much fun watching this bizarre little movie as I did.
Rating: 8 out of 10

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