Willy’s Wonderland (2021) – Film Review

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Oh Nic Cage, he be chillin’. Animatronics, they be killin’. It’s time for a fight, to survive the night… walking into Willy’s Wonderland.

A quiet drifter is tricked into a janitorial job at the now condemned Willy’s Wonderland themed family restaurant. The mundane tasks suddenly become an all-out fight for survival against wave after wave of demonic animatronics. Fists fly, kicks land, titans clash — and only one side will make it out alive.

The production design on the titular Willy’s Wonderland is top notch. The branding of the restaurant/funhouse, the catchy music and its cast of characters give it a creepy Chuck E. Cheese-vibe. Which in itself is a deeply disturbing place for an adult let alone a child. The filmmakers lean into this and take full advantage of the possibilites arising from this location.

Plot-wise, the story of a dilapidated roadside attraction situated in a town with a dark secret that preys on unsuspecting passers-by evokes memories of classic horror films such as House Of Wax (the original) and Tourist Trap. There is one star attraction that Willy’s has that those films did not however… Nicolas Cage!

Often one for histrionics and hysteria, Cage instead infuses The Janitor with a zen-like state of calm. The strong, silent type who takes great pride in his job. He works hard and diligently takes breaks to fuel up on caffience drinks and play pinball. He is so chill in fact, he seems completely unfazed by the animatronics trying to kill him and more put out by the group of kids who turn up to try and burn down the building but get trapped inside with him.

The result is a bloodbath more chaotic than a children’s birthday party with a lack of adult supervision. Terrifying if you are caught in the middle of it but as an innocent voyeur in the audience, it is an absolute riot from start to finish and delight to witness.

Diners would probably give the restaurant a one star review on TripAdvisor. However as a cinematic experience, it puts the fun into Funhouse and everyone should make a booking for Willy’s Wonderland.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Willy’s Wonderland is available on VOD from Friday 12th February.

Director: Kevin Lewis
Stars: Nicolas Cage, Emily Tosta, Beth Grant
Runtime: 88 minutes
Country: USA

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