Review: "Willy's Wonderland"

Author: Oscar Noem


By all accounts, the 2021 horror flick “Willy’s Wonderland” has a lot going for it. It has a terrifying premise, featuring a protagonist trapped overnight in a Chuck E. Cheese-style pizzeria while murderous animatronics come to life and roam the halls. It even stars the one and only Nicolas Cage as a silent badass (you can tell because he has mirrored sunglasses and a cool car). Unfortunately, good ideas are not enough to carry a movie. So the question remains: is “Willy’s Wonderland” a good movie? No. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t fun as hell. After all, watching Nicolas Cage screaming and beating up a man in a green gorilla suit with a plunger brings more than enough joy to make the $4.99 rental fee worth it.

On a technical level, the film is subpar at best. The editing is terrible: cuts between scenes are choppy, yet somehow not choppy enough for the thrilling animatronic chases to actually be scary. The acting just manages to be mediocre, though to be honest, the movie might have been better served by hiring worse actors and playing into its own campy comedy. The stereotypical horror tropes feel gratuitous: fake blood, a softcore over-the-clothes sex scene and the typical teenage horror ensemble of the nerd, the jock, the bimbo and the heroic “final girl.” It seems likely that the majority of the $5 million dollar budget went into paying Nicolas Cage and designing the genuinely creepy animatronic suits, which are sadly wasted, as the actors in said suits move far too organically to be scary — barely better than a typical stiff-limbed robot impression.

Yet despite all these flaws, watching “Willy’s Wonderland” was still an enjoyable experience. Similar to campy classics like “Kung Fury” and “Velocipastor,” this movie is the perfect cheesy flick to laugh at with some friends on a quiet quarantine night.