When I heard there would be a movie that had Nicolas Cage square off against demonic animatronic animals in an 80’s style kids restaurant, I did not know what to think. Now after watching it, and thinking about it for a day, I still have no idea how Willy’s Wonderland got made. It feels like a pitch meeting got out of hand and somehow got funding. Yet, in spite of that nonsense concept (or because of it) the movie works far better than it has any right to.
A silent drifter (Cage) finds himself tricked into cleaning an old Chuck E Cheese style restaurant known as Willy’s Wonderland. While the job starts as one would expect, cleaning and other menial tasks, things quickly shift as the animatronics come to life and thirst for human blood. Not to be deterred, Cage’s silent protagonist takes each new outlandish incident in stride as he works to clean and fight his way till morning.
But this being the B-movie throwback it is, things do not rest there, managing to deliver a hefty body count, teen sex, a dark backstory about serial killers, and a town of characters filled with “personality.” Willy’s Wonderland is a blend of the best tropes we know in the genre, with just the right amount of humour to never take itself too seriously.
As Nick Cage’s Janitor slowly works to clean things up — and fight the demonic forces that are trying to kill him— a group of ambiguously aged young adults look to strike back at the evil kids restaurant. Featuring performances by Emily Tosta, Beth Grant, Jonathan Mercedes, Caylee Cowan, and Terayle Hill, the full cast delivers wonderfully over the top takes on the stereotypical horror tropes, giving plenty of space for heads to roll and the mystery at the heart of the restaurant to be revealed.