‘Willy’s Wonderland’ is So Bad It’s Camp

A still from 'Willy's Wonderland'. Nicolas Cage is shown in mid shot, darkly lit from behind, he has facial hair and a cut on his cheek. He wears a blue 'Willys Wonderland' ringer t-shirt and looks to the right of the image at something in front of him off screen.
Signature Entertainment

There’s nothing more enjoyable than a campy gore fest that doesn’t over stay its welcome. Willy’s Wonderland is exactly that, presenting itself as cinema’s answer to beloved indie video game Five Nights at Freddie’s, this spectacle of cartoonish horror is a wild ride from start to finish.

Cage, our silent and nameless hero, ends up stranded in a remote town, as his car breaks down and a shifty character offers him a deal for a repair. With no other options, Cage is forced to spend the night cleaning an abandoned family fun centre, fending off murderous animatronics, filing his nails and guzzling energy drinks.

As the Janitor (Cage) sets about cleaning up, only pausing to cause absolute electronic destruction and take his allocated breaks, a group of rambunctious kids plan to break in and burn Willy’s — and all electronic inhabitants — to a crisp. Featuring performances from Emily Tosta, Beth Grant, Ric Reitz and Chris Warner, the cast deliver consistently on the over the top emotional cues and cheesy one liners, resulting in an easy watch.

Almost robotic himself, Cage’s humanity is only ever displayed through his groans and grumbles, projecting a man who is truly too old and too tired to be dealing with this shit. This contributes massively to the off-beat and uncomfortable overtone that engulfs every scene featuring Cage. The sheer bizarre and unnatural behaviours of the Janitor, matched with the silly and sinister animatronics, solidifies Willy’s Wonderland in the realm of ‘so bad its camp’. Combined with some impressive work on the animatronics, and select use of CGI, Willy’s Wonderland is a spectacle of gore, overcast with flamboyant colour tones.

With a run time of 88 minutes, Willy’s Wonderland is propelled recklessly via brute force, gritty gore and one-dimensional characters. It skates by on the clichés of the horror genre, never stopping to develop any of the teens beyond their cliché archetypes (the slut, the nice guy, the empath) and leaving behind gaping plot holes in their wake. It packages itself loosely as surface level fun, making it thoroughly enjoyable but lacking any real substance. It’s clear as the plot unfolds that director Kevin Lewis attempts to embrace the cult angle comedy horror can so effortlessly squeeze into.  This pays off in more ways than one, as the simple yet chaotic execution of Cage’s rage makes for some mind numbing entertainment.

Willy’s Wonderland does not ask much of its audience, it in fact begs us to turn off our brains and settle in for a blood soaked ride riddled with rage. Overall it’s a fun, fast-paced rinse and repeat style horror, made for B-movie lovers.

Signature Entertainment Presents Willy’s Wonderland on Digital Platforms 12th April and DVD & Blu-ray 19th April

by Kelsie Dickinson

Kelsie (she/her) is a super gay masters student at The University of Glasgow. She loves slashers, but hates capitalism. Her favourite films are It Follows, Midsommar, Lost In Translation and Ghost World. Find her on Twitter.

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