Stuff I Watch in October: Willy’s Wonderland (2021)

Happy October and welcome! All 31 days this month, I will be reviewing all the films I watch in the month of October. They’re mostly a selection of horror or suspense films in my own library or films and shows that have been recommended to me.

Please enjoy and leave a comment!

And if you missed any of our past reflections, take a look:

The Phantom of the Opera (1925)
Psycho (1960)
The Haunting (1963)
It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (1966)
The Other (1972)
The Legend of Hell House (1973)
Young Frankenstein (1974)
The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)
Halloween (1978)
Alien (1979)
The Shining (1980)
Halloween II (1981)
The Evil Dead (1981)
Halloween III – Season of the Witch (1982)
Ghostbusters (1984)
Teen Wolf (1985)
Aliens (1986)
Big Trouble in Little China (1986)
Predator (1987)
The Monster Squad (1987)
The Witches of Eastwick (1987)
The Lost Boys (1987)
Evil Dead II: Dead By Dawn (1987)
Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988)
They Live (1988)
Beetlejuice (1988)
Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989)
Ghostbusters II (1989)
Predator 2 (1990)
The Addams Family (1991)
Alien 3 (1992)
Army of Darkness (1992)
The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
The Crow (1994)
Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995)
From Dusk Till Dawn (1996)
Scream (1996)
Alien: Resurrection (1997)
Scream 2 (1997)
Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998)
The Sixth Sense (1999)
What Lies Beneath (2000)
Scream 3 (2000)
28 Days Later (2002)
Bubba Ho-Tep (2002)
The Ring (2002)
Halloween: Resurrection (2002)
Identity (2003)
AVP: Alien vs Predator (2004)
Shaun of the Dead (2004)
Snakes on a Plane (2006)
Alien vs Predator: Requiem (2007)
Halloween (2007)
Grindhouse (2007)
Halloween II (2009)
Predators (2010)
Absentia (2011)
Prometheus (2012)
The Cabin in the Woods (2012)
Escape From Tomorrow (2013)
Oculus (2013)
Before I Wake (2016)
Hush (2016)
Ouija: Origin of Evil (2016)
Alien: Covenant (2017)
Happy Death Day (2017)
Get Out (2017)
Gerald’s Game (2017)
The Predator (2018)
The Haunting of Hill House (2018)
Halloween (2018)
A Quiet Place (2018)
Happy Death Day 2U (2019)
Us (2019)
Ready or Not (2019)
Doctor Sleep (2019)
The Invisible Man (2020)
The Haunting of Bly Manor (2020)

Our next film is…

WATCHING: Willy’s Wonderland (2021)

Willy's Wonderland

DIRECTOR: Kevin Lewis who, before this, made a half dozen shit films ranking from 2 to 4 on the IMDB. This is his best-ranked film at 5.5. I mean, don’t say I didn’t warn ya’.

WHAT IS IT?: Ever played the game Five Nights at Freddy’s and thought “Man, I could totally watch a movie based on this game”? Willy’s Wonderland is your dream come true.

THE PLOT: A quiet drifter (Nicolas Cage) is driving through the middle of the American south when he accidentally runs over a rumble strip that’s seemingly been left in the middle of the road. After his car is towed into town, the mechanic (who doesn’t take credit cards and only takes cash, which the Drifter doesn’t have) offers to put the drifter to work in an overnight janitorial job so that he can pay for his car repairs.

After the drifter reluctantly accepts the position, he quickly finds out that the boarded up and condemned former kid’s theme restaurant (called “Willy’s Wonderland”) contains life-sized audio-animatronic figures which are possessed by a supernatural force and they’re out for his blood — and that he’s not the first person to get suckered into the deal. But what the town’s police and governing body doesn’t know is that the drifter is just as deadly as the machines are — and that he’s not locked in there with them…they are locked in there with him.

WHAT DID CRITICS THINK?: Critics were mixed-to-positive about the film, lambasting the all-too-familiar premise — but praising Nicolas Cage for his outrageous, Eastwood-in-a-Spaghetti-Western performance as The Drifter/The Janitor.

WHAT DID I THINK?: I saw the film for the first time a few months back with some friends online in a Twitch get-together where we all got a chance to fling riffs at the film, much like MST3K.

Willy's Wonderland

Since then, I’ve wanted to see it uninterrupted (we had a few breaks in between, which kind of ruined the pacing of the movie) and without the commentary.

Willy’s Wonderland is a sneak attack on unsuspecting audiences, much like its murderous characters are capable of, with a fun performance from Nic Cage. This is post-financial issues Nic where he’s pretty much filming anything and everything to pay back The Man.

The premise is a complete and total rip-off of Five Nights at Freddy’s, a silly, bloody, goofy film where Nic Cage gets into pseudo-video game boss battles with robotic figures (which, admittedly, sounds like a Nic Cage movie at this point) and should be categorized as a wild trip through a Chuck-E-Cheese while on acid — yet Cage plays The Drifter/Janitor like he’s played everything else: straight-faced, taking everything seriously, as if this performance may be his way back to the Oscars and the promised land.

And the dude does not utter one word the entire film.

I am serious here.

Nicolas Cage does not have one line of dialogue in this film except to scream or grunt when fighting these monstrosities — and that’s what makes the movie all that much more impressive. Cage hasn’t just gotten acclaim and awards for his dialogue, he knows how to express himself.

He’s the glue which holds the film together, which is great since the younger actors, save for Liv (played by Emily Tosta), all bite it within the first hour.

Also most welcome is the notion that this isn’t quite a horror film and that it’s more of a dark action piece where the main characters aren’t running and hiding. That’s also to its detriment since I would have liked to have seen more scares involving these machines before The Janitor goes to work on them. Director Lewis doesn’t quite seem to know how to properly balance the two.

Still, Willy’s Wonderland is a daring film that lays all its cards on the table and dares you to shut it off — and it’s a hell of a lot of fun, flaws and all.


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