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Nicolas Cage in Willy's Wonderland
Nicolas Cage in Willy's Wonderland

The Nicolas Cage Renaissance continues with another B- movie cult classic, which looks inspired by the video game, Five Nights at Freddy’s. Whether Director Kevin Lewis and writer G.O. Parsons knew this or not is not the point of discussion, it’s essentially the same idea. What makes it different is the inclusion of Schrödinger’s Actor, Nicolas Cage. He stars as The Janitor, an intense and silent protagonist with no dialogue the entire film. The Janitor has only one clear goal, to clean the restaurant and get his car back.  

We first meet The Janitor as his car breaks down in a decrepit old town. With no way of paying for repairs because the town conveniently has no internet or access to any ATMs, all seems doomed. Fortunately, The Janitor is offered a strange arrangement by resident bigwig and shady businessman Tex Macado (Ric Reitz). His ride will be repaired, but all he has to do is spend the Night cleaning an abandoned Chuck-E-Cheese-style restaurant known as Willy’s Wonderland. Little does this man know, he just became the Janitor for a horde of demonic animatronics, and he is set to be their next meal, or so you’d think.

Like him or not, Cage puts himself into every role, good, bad, silly, or profound. This one is no exception. However, the rest of his co-stars are what you would expect, unremarkable. Liv (Emily Tocasta) leads a gang of teens who want to take out the animatronics once and for all. The kids who join The Janitor in the restaurant are forgettable and just murder fodder for the animatronics. However, Liv delivers the funniest and most accurate line of the film when she yells out, “He’s not trapped in there with them. They’re trapped in here with him.” When The Janitor is confronted by a demonic Ostrich animatronic, you expect the horror to begin. But then, the Janitor just starts punching the Ostrich to death. You can’t help but cackle in delight at Nicolas Cage’s intensity. Every scene is focused and funny, from shots of him cleaning, and sweeping to fighting for his life, to his mandated Pop Punch breaks and oddly sensual Pinball playing. Director Kevin Lewis fully knows what his movie is about and dives headfirst into that campy, horror style pulling no punches. 

The setting is what you would expect out of a low-budget horror movie. Still, there are some great examples of silly world-building with the “Pop Punch” soda and the Willy Wonderland’s Pinball machine that The Janitor nearly makes love to. You can even purchase the same shirt The Janitor wears. You can tell the budget really went into the titular character, Willy, and his gang of demonic animatronics. Each one has a unique design and personality and really does feel like characters that would have frightened me at Chuck-E-Cheese when I was five. 

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Overall, I thought this movie was hilariously campy in the best way possible. You’re not looking for the next Hereditary. You’re looking for Nicolas Cage being incredibly awesome in an incredibly ridiculous B- movie, and that’s what you get here. Definitely check it out. You won’t regret it.  

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