Let’s throw some punches.
Willy’s Wonderland is basically Five Nights at Freddy’s with Nicholas Cage. We follow a silent Cage as he is roped into cleaning the wonderland in exchange for his car being fixed. However, it is all a ploy, and he is meant to be sacrificed to the satanic animatronic characters inside the wonderland. Unfortunately for the villains, Cage is here to kick ass and play pinball.
The film is completely absurd. Cage is silent, steely, and damn serious about taking breaks. We watch him lovingly clean a pinball machine and slam energy drinks on break. Later, once the pinball machine is fixed, we watch him play the game in an almost sexual manner. Between breaks he cleans and brutally murders the animatronics that want to hurt him. The fight scenes are an awesome mix of camp and pomp. The brutality is laughable and makes for a hell of a good time. Come for the Cage Rage.
If the film was only Cage being Cage it would be a cult classic. The problem is that we end up having to have a bunch of other stuff that drags the story down.
Oddly enough, I wrote that above preamble a couple days ago when we watched the movie and got busy with other things. When I came back to finish the review, I realized that I had forgotten all of the other characters names. We have our standard slew of misfit teens who want to burn the funhouse down to save people or whatever. However, their rationale and motivations for doing so seem tenuous, as most of them want to turn tail and run at the first sign of anything.
The teens were added to this film to get a larger body count. That’s it. We all know that in most horror films with a group there are bound to be some low-level kills to remind the audience that they are in fact watching a horror movie. (It is almost like the producers of these films think we’ll forget what genre we’re watching). Having Cage curb stomp an animatronic monster in a urinal isn’t enough for us simpletons, I guess. Therefore, we end up with a pack of morons (I think there were five or six) who are unceremoniously murdered.
The film can’t even get the cheap kills right. We end up massacring them both too fast and too late. They’ve been around long enough to be annoying but are killed so quickly that the blood fix they wanted to give gore hounds falls flat. Mix in questionable acting and subpar writing and this hurts the overall experience.
The ridiculous moments with Cage are enjoyable. If the movie cut out all the other characters and only focused on him it would probably gather a bit of a cult following. It may anyway, but I imagine there will be an asterisk next to the enjoyment factor. We have a weird and unique approach that is marred by unnecessarily shoveling in genre tropes.
Another thing that bothered me about this film is how bluntly it borrows from Five Nights at Freddy’s. I wanted to see an advertisement or some sort of nod to the game (you know, other than ripping it off). There are already articles out there defending this notion, and arguing the film is superior for how it differs from the game, but even these defenses seem to acknowledge the similarities as inherently linking the two creations.
Don’t get me wrong, Freddy’s is a one note series that seemed designed more for loud streamers than serious gamers, but they still own the idea. Without giving at least a cursory thank you to the origins of the idea it feels a little cheap.
Is it worth watching? Sure, but only if you’re into the so-bad-it-is-good category of films. There is a lot of fun to be had if you are in the mood for it. I wouldn’t be surprised if this film ends up being a bit of a cult classic or if it ends up being forgotten in a few years. I think it has the potential for either path.
Check it out when it hits a free streaming service if you want some Cage Rage.