WILLY'S WONDERLAND Review: Nicolas Cage Battles Evil Robotic Mascots In Riotous Horror Comedy

If you've ever wanted to see Nicolas Cage trapped in a haunted equivalent of Chuck E. Cheese while fighting for his life against possessed animatronic mascots, Willy's Wonderland is the movie for you...

Reviews Opinion

Nicolas Cage plays a drifter who agrees to spend the night cleaning a run-down entertainment center only to discover that he's actually been offered up as a human sacrifice to the evil machines inside, and must fight for his life against a bunch of mascots that have been possessed by the spirits of a child-killing cult.

If you read that synopsis and immediately went to find the "shut up and take my money" meme... welcome to Willy's Wonderland!

This movie is most definitely not going to be everyone's cup of tea, and director Kevin Lewis and writer G.O. Parsons (adapting his own short film) are well aware of it. Willy's Wonderland fully embraces the fact that it's playing to a niche audience, and goes to great lengths to ensure they walk away with their money's worth.

There's buckets of blood 'n guts (and whatever spills out of machine/demon hybrids), laughs aplenty, and Cage's "Janitor" taking regularly scheduled breaks from dismembering child-eating robots to play pinball while knocking back his favourite soda.

It may sound like schlock for schlock's sake, but there is more to the movie than cheap thrills. Cage can be a magnetic screen presence when he reigns it in a bit, and, believe it or not, he actually gives a somewhat restrained performance here. There are bouts of craziness, of course, but his enigmatic, silent (he literally never utters a word) antihero has more in common with, say, Mandy's Red Miller than one of the many OTT cartoon characters he's played over the years.

Emily Tosta (Party of Five) also impresses as The Janitor's mascot-mashing sidekick Liv, and the great Beth Grant (Donnie Darko) shows up as the town sheriff.

The FX are surprisingly effective given the budget, with Willy Weasel and his playmates proving to be realistic, unsettling creations. Siren Sara, in particular, is pure nightmare fuel, and while the film is never outright scary, there are a few tense, creepy moments.

One could argue that the premise is stretched a little thin, and even those fully on board with the movie's blend of mayhem may find that the Cage-carnage starts to get a bit repetitive by the end, but by that point you'll probably be having way too much fun to care.

Willy's Wonderland does exactly what it sets out to do, and if you're prepared to take Mr. Cage by the hand and board this anarchic thrill-ride, you're in for a blood-soaked blast.

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