This is a spoiler free review.
I’ve been a fan of Five Nights at Freddy’s since Markiplier and MatPat started flooding YouTube with jump scare footage. The indie horror games created by Scott Cawthon played a huge role in reviving the childhood horrors of Chuck E. Cheese. Animatronic horror has seen a revival as a result, with a prominent example being The Banana Splits Movie, which reintroduced the Hanna-Barbera characters as serial killers.
The most recent addition to this weird subgenre is Willy’s Wonderland. I saw the trailer for it a while back was intrigued, but it wasn’t exactly on my radar until I saw a clip from the movie on Twitter.
Directed by Kevin Lewis, written by G. O. Parsons, and starring the one and only Nicholas Cage, Willy’s Wonderland follows a nameless Cage getting his tires slashed in a rinky-dink town. With no cash to pay for repairs, Cage cuts a deal: clean Willy’s Wonderland in one night, and they’ll repair his car.
What ensues is kitschy, b-movie fun; exactly what the clip from Twitter promised me. Only Nick Cage could pull off something this preposterous and it not suck; his role is built around putting silent eccentricities into the character, like pinball wizardry and downing energy drinks, and the way he does it with swagger just plain works. It’s like if Max Rockatansky had a little brother who busted up animatronics with gorey, oily precision. The animatronics at Willy’s are all given distinct personalities, like Siren Sara and Gus Gorilla, both of whom are creepy and deserve everything coming to them.
The film also features a group of kids lead by Emily Tosta, playing the sheriff’s stepdaughter Liv. The kids make up your typical teenage horror movie troupe, but Tosta is a standout who plays well opposite Cage. Her future star is very bright.
If you go into Willy’s Wonderland expecting a carbon copy of Five Nights at Freddy’s, you might be disappointed. Willy’s Wonderland only pulls a jump scare once or twice, but that’s a good thing for the movie it’s trying to be.
Is Willy’s Wonderland the best movie ever? No. But it is undeniably tHE BeSt MOviE EvEr. I laughed a lot, and I for sure got my money’s worth.
Willy’s Wonderland is available now in theaters and Video On Demand.
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