Nicolas Cage is no stranger to bad movies. He’s been in plenty of good ones, too but appears to thrive amidst the chaos of low-budget, action-packed movies that let him go wild. Willy’s Wonderland is one such film. Released in 2021, it sees Cage play the hero against a bunch of possessed, murderous animatronics.
That plot may sound familiar, and that’s because it is. Five Nights at Freddy’s and its wacky animatronics first came to fruition as a video game in 2014, and have been subjected to dozens of spin-offs, never-ending lore analysis, and recently, a movie. Simply put, a security guard is tasked with keeping an eye on Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza when they notice the animatronics getting a little freaky at night; soon enough, things turn violent.
Willy’s Wonderland is very much the same narrative, except our protagonist – a nameless janitor with Nic Cage’s face – has wound up cleaning an entertainment complex in exchange for getting his car fixed. What he doesn’t realise (or does, you can’t quite tell), is that he’s actually intended to be the entertainment complex’s next victim, with the townsfolk having gotten into the habit of sending unsuspecting individuals to it as sacrifices to the brutal animatronics that cannot be quelled.
This isn’t any bother for our janitor, though, who doesn’t speak a single word during the movie’s one hour and 28 minute runtime. He’s got a job to do if he wants his prized possession back in working order, and cleaning up clearly includes putting an end to the animatronics on his tail. As soon as he is set to work, we see him cleaning and taking regular breaks lording it up in the arcade with energy drinks. Soon enough, his cleaning job takes a turn when these awful, Furby-looking creatures try to murder him by any means possible. The janitor, however, is completely unphased and utterly brutal as he tears these animatronics to shreds. It helps that they respect his breaktime in the arcade, too. Fun and games for everyone!
As the janitor mops up the messes these creatures create without breaking a sweat, a group of teenagers who’ve set out to destroy the complex wind up inside, trying to rescue him from the horrors he’s cleaning up after. This janitor – to put it simply – does not give a fuck. He’s here to get his car fixed, and he’s not leaving until he holds up his end of the bargain; if killing off animatronics and cleaning their corpses is included, then so be it. Nothing, not even some teenagers, are capable of coming in between this janitor and his car.
Five Nights At Freddy’s definitely has more going for it in terms of plot development and lore, while Willy’s Wonderland takes the same murderous animatronics narrative and refuses to take them too seriously. It employs the tropes of dozens of slasher films before it; we’ve got characters incapable of making a good decision to save their lives (literally), characters punished for their sexual activity, and a final girl. Its highlight, however, is none other than the janitor and his escapades. Without uttering a word, he takes on these animatronics as though they are video game bosses, with the arcade’s pinball machine being his minigame of choice.
Overall, Willy’s Wonderland is incredible fun. It’s equal parts camp and brutal, often silly, and answers the question of ‘What if someone actually killed those animatronics?’ while executing its premise in style via flashy action scenes and some surprisingly impressive cinematography. It’s Nicolas Cage being as bizarre as he has always been, and those action scenes show him at his best.
If you’re in need of an amusing, casual watch with friends after taking in the FNAF movie, Willy’s Wonderland should be next on your list. Those who have an affinity for FNAF will no doubt find some joy in it, and those who are fans of camp, goofy slashers will probably deem it better than FNAF altogether. Sorry, not sorry.