By James Secker
Nicolas Cage has been making some truly weird and wonderful casting choices recently (Mandy, Color Out of Space) and Willy’s Wonderland slots in with those films nicely. This balls to the wall creation is brought to life by first-time screenwriter G.O. Parsons and director Kevin Lewis (The Drop).
A quiet loner (Nicolas Cage) finds himself stranded in a remote town when his car breaks down. Unable to pay for the repairs he needs, he agrees to spend the night cleaning Willy’s Wonderland, an abandoned family fun center. But this wonderland has a dark secret that this “Janitor” is about to discover. He soon finds himself locked in an epic battle with possessed animatronic mascots that roam the halls. To survive, he must fight his way through each of them.
Cage steals every scene in a surprising dialogue free role. He truly is a force of nature, smashing up evil animatronics with the ease and swagger that only the seasoned actor could pull off. It’s such a badass performance for someone that doesn’t utter a single line and he should be commended for his ability to connect with the audience solely through his expressions and body language. There’s not alot of Cage Rage on display here, but fans will get a kick out of an incredible pinball dance sequence that Cage supposedly improvised during the shoot.
Horror fans looking for their next gore fix will have a ball with Willy’s Wonderland. There’s a decent body count of disposable characters trapped in the family fun center with “Janitor”. Once the film gets going, it really doesn’t let up – the amount of blood splattered mayhem that ensues is truly outstanding. Apart from some ropey CGI, the practical effects here are top notch and considering it’s modest budget, it’s a fantastic throwback to the cheesy b-movies of the 1980’s.
Director Kevin Lewis throws everything at the audience to emerse you in the world. His love for Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead films shows here, with hyper-kinetic camera work and ridiculous over the top action set-pieces that will leave a huge grin on your face, even after the credits roll. There isn’t even a hint of seriousness and it’s all the better for it, fun is the name of the game here and it delivers in spades.
Willy’s Wonderland is exactly what you think it is. Leave your brain at the door, grab the popcorn and enjoy the ride.
Willy’s Wonderland is available in the UK now on digital platforms from Signature Entertainment.