A stranger is driving along a road when his car breaks down. Upon investigating, he finds spikes were laid on the street, popping all four of his tyres. He accepts a ride with someone who inspects his car, letting him know it will take $1,000 to fix. Leaving his car in the garage, our stranger is in a bind- he cannot pay with a credit card as there is no internet in town, and he does not have adequate cash. Because the stranger has no money in his wallet, he is given the opportunity to work off the bill by working an overnight shift at Willy’s Wonderland as a janitor. If he works the overnight shift and cleans up the place, the repaired car will be ready to go by morning.
But what seems like simple work at a rundown theme park in exchange for a repair becomes a true nightmare. You see, at Willy’s Wonderland, there are several animatronics that was once used for entertainment. But these animatronics are possessed and have a thirst to kill. Soon the stranger is joined by a group of younger adults who have their mission at Willy’s Wonderland. Can the stranger and the group of young adults survive the night?
The best way to describe this film is to say it is fun and wacky, but this should be obvious considering the leading man is none other than Nicholas Cage, who once again features in an entertaining horror film. If you enjoy hearing the actor’s voice in the movie, you might be surprised to find the mysterious stranger (who has no name in the film) who does not speak a word. But thankfully, the actor is still bringing plenty of fun to the screen. As a character, the stranger shows he is honourable, completing the job despite the danger, but he is also dangerous with his fists and wits. The leading man is simply a mystery. Not only do we not know his name, but we never know why he does not speak or why he constantly drinks energy drinks. Are the drinks powerful, allowing him to swing his fists? You will never know. Like the wacky plot and story, the film takes its audience on a ride which many will wish to visit again or perhaps only enjoy the thrills on the screen once. In short, Nicholas Cage is easily the best highlight of the film.
The visuals are dark but, again, fun. The film delivers a style that can only be described as a cult horror film from the 80s, and the film is loaded with retro vibes. Those who love gore and violence will be pretty pleased with the level of blood in this film, even when it is being sprayed out of evil animatronics. The film’s soundtrack was also pleasing, delivering added joy to everything on screen. The evil character designs were fascinating and are undoubtedly creepy, working well as the film’s evil villains.
But while the film overall is fun and wacky, it certainly has familiar and odd moments. The young adults who join the stranger’s battle throughout the night have predictable outcomes. One example of this is when a young couple wishes to escape to another room for “alone time”- this can only mean one thing. I feel these types of cliches are highly overused in horror films today. The film enjoys spending far too much time on predictable moments rather than surprising the viewers.
Overall, this film delivers what I generally expected. There is a certain level of creativity and wackiness that I truly admired and enjoyed. Still, there are also a few familiar elements here that have been introduced in cinema before and carry predictable outcomes. In the end, if you love the sound of watching actor Nicholas Cage fight a group of possessed animatronics, then you will undoubtedly have a great time. Nicholas Cage is easily the most definite highlight of this film as he proves yet again that no type of film or story is ever off-limits for him to feature in.
Willy’s Wonderland (2021) is Now Available on Blu-ray & DVD!