What do you get when you take a dark twist on children's pizza parlors and inject it with Nicholas Cage, but without giving him a single line of dialog in the entire movie? Willy's Wonderland is a pure gem of a cult classic, that's what. I don't know who took a look at Nick Cage's filmography, iconic for his over-the-top rants and screaming performances, and thought, "Hey, I want to see all of that but without the dialog." Whoever was responsible for that decision deserves a reward because the result is endlessly entertaining.
Set in a small town with no working ATM and no internet, Nick Cage plays a silently unstable caffeine addict who is stranded after having his car tires sabotaged and lacking the cash to get back on the road. Offered a chance to earn the repairs needed to move on, the silent protagonist sets out to spend the night cleaning a decades-old and abandoned children's pizza parlor packed with blood-thirsty animatronic robots. Surrounded by classic horror tropes, Nick Cage is inconvenienced by having to intermittently thwart evil robots between breaks as he thoroughly cleans up.
While Willy's Wonderland fits in with parody horror films in line with Sharknado, it sets itself apart with a more grounded premise. Everything here from the bottom up is designed to appeal to a very specific palate for cheesy slasher flicks but composed in a way that works as a comedy. The violence is b-grade splatterfest in a way that comes off almost like a Warner Bros. cartoon, but with bits and pieces of just enough creepiness. The vibe is what you come here for more than anything else.
The self-awareness is on full display even from the actors as they spew out the most unbelievable dialog with gusto. Cage, more than anyone else, embraces the material with the flare that he is known for. It's a unique challenge for him as an actor to portray the weird nuance of someone who is alternately bored and unhinged with the same type of animation that he gives to his most out-of-control rants. And it's all done without a single word of dialog.
Like Sharknado, Willy's Wonderland is aimed at a very specific type of audience but is the very peak of its style. Like any film that so eloquently outdoes all other films of their type, Willy's Wonderland should be on the must-watch list for anyone who has even the remotest appreciation for cheesy horror.
|Final Verdict:||A must watch if it's even remotely in your wheelhouse.|