Film Corner: Willy's Wonderland

I'm immobilized in bed today but someone told me about a recent Nic Cage movie that's kinda Five Nights At Freddy's without enriching the FNAF guy.

It's called WILLY'S WONDERLAND. "When his car breaks down, a quiet loner agrees to clean an abandoned family fun center in exchange for repairs. He soon finds himself waging war against possessed animatronic mascots while trapped inside Willy's Wonderland." We start with two parents running for their lives through a creepy Chucky Cheese / Fazzbear's Entertainment. Something kills then off screen, as one does.

Another time, another day, another place. Nic Cage's car hits a strip of nails that blows out all his tires. Stoic to the end, he silently enjoys a warm can of PUNCH soda. He hasn't said a word yet but somehow he's said everything with his cool sunglasses. A traveler picks him up and gives him a ride.

A girl of maybe 16 tries to burn down Willy's Wonderland in the middle of the day but is brought in by a local sheriff who is also her mother? grandmother? Nic and the girl meet and share a slow motion look. Unsure what that's all about.

At the local garage, Nic ponders the many "missing person" posters of adults. The garage wants $1000 to repair Nic's car, but only in cash. And there's "no internet in Hayesville" thus no ATMs. Nic isn't carrying a cool grand in cash so a suggestion is made that he "work it off". There is a feel of something sinister going on. Nic looks like he's wondering if he's going to have to take his clothes off for this.

Nic is dropped off at Willy's Wonderland where a slimy suit named Tex ("same as the state") says he wants to clean and reopen the place.
Graffiti on the wall says "gateway to hell" and "kid killers". Tex promises to have Nic's car fixed if he stays the night cleaning the place. How generous!

Our animatronic cast:
Willy the Weasel (Freddy?)
Arty the Alligator (Foxy?)
Siren Sara (Ballora?)
Cammy the Chameleon (Chica?)
Gus Gorilla (Bonnie?)
Knighty Night
Ozzie the Ostrich
and Tito the Turtle

Willy's introduction on the video calls Tito a "Toitel!" Because Willy has a New Jersey accent, you see. The video ends and we see the dilapidated shambles of the animatronics on the stage as the camera pans out. See?

Caption: The characters on stage in a state of disrepair.

They just need a little tender loving care!

Tex says the pizzeria got shut down from lawsuits because a kid touched an animatronic and got hurt. Nic notes that the creatures HAVE FANGS. Nic turns around and we see Willy behind him. I will transcribe Kissmate's reaction: "Don't move. Don't move. AHHH IT MOVED IT'S MOVING NO." Nic whips around and Willy freezes. Probably just our imagination.

Next, Tex shows Nic the cleaning closet and gives him a Willy's Wonderland shirt. He says he'll be back in the morning and to help himself to the kitchen. Then he padlocks the door behind him. "Let's get out of here," Tex says. "I can't stand to hear a grown man scream."

The girl chained to a radiator is joined by her friends. "Come on, we're late! I saw the bait already." She wants to save Nic's character, I think. Out of all of her friends, I love the blond girl SO MUCH. You think she's going to be catty and bitchy, but no! She's useful and fun and flirty and I love her.

Nic is making a good faith attempt to clean the place in his Willy shirt. The animals on stage are moving very very slightly. Kissmate is hyperventilating and I love him so much. The kitchen is a mess. Nic stocks the working fridge with a bag containing his PUNCH colas. Oh! He has discovered a dusty old pinball machine in a corner of the kitchen!

Pause here, so Kissmate can help me to the bathroom. You know, this is really all I wanted from a Five Nights At Freddy's movie, to be honest.

Sorry for the delay. I got back in bed and Chip decided to "help" me by climbing on my chest and stomping wherever I said ow. Update: Nic Cage has not said a word this entire movie and I thought I would hate that because I like his voice and I don't like gimmicks, but it really WORKS here and it's showing off his chops as a face actor. I'm actually impressed.

Nic mops the floor while the Ostrich leaves the stage (AHH!) and comes up to stand behind him. Nic turns and taps it with his mop. The hooded eyes of the Ostrich stare into his soul. Cheerily, the animatronic voice announces "I'm gonna feast on your face!"

In an orgy of violence which wordlessly portrays Nic's frustration with the situation he's been forced into, Nic beats the Ostrich to death with a broken mop and pulls out its spine. It's great. 5 stars, this is the best movie I've ever seen. Silently, Nic returns to the janitor closet and finds a clean new Willy shirt to change into. This movie is the pinnacle of human achievement.

In the sheriff's office, we learn that an outsider from highway patrol was called in for "backup" to help curfew the town. He's puzzled why he was called in--at double overtime pay, no less!--because the town is so small and quiet. I think he's here as "backup" in case Nic manages to escape and they need a second piece of meat to throw to the animatronics. "See that red phone?" the Sheriff tells him. "We sit here and pray that don't ring."

Nic puts duct tape on his wounds and bags up the Ostrich. He learns he's locked inside when he tries to take the bag out to the garbage. His watch beeps the time- oh! It's a Five Nights reference, with the hours ticking onward! Except, no, it doesn't beep on the hour. It seems to be, like, 15 minutes for every 45 so he can take a break in the kitchen?

While cleaning the men's room, cheery music starts. The stage critters are singing the birthday song to taunt him. He kills the power to the stage, but the men's room door slams ominously closed. When he returns, fresh blood on a cleaned mirror says: "It's YOUR birthday."

"Let's play hide and seek," a deep voice intones as the bathroom cubicle doors shut. "I'm gonna eat your eyes out and then feast on your soul." Gorilla attacks Nic, necessitating that Nic wield a plunger and a ceramic urinal to dispose of him. Time for another clean shirt. (Didn't Bonnie favor the restrooms in FNAF? Either way, I genuinely believe a FNAF fan made this. It's great, I love it, this is the best movie ever made. I'll take it as my movie of choice to a deserted island.)

Nic duct-tapes his fractured ribs back into place and bags up Gorilla. The creatures at the stage watch ominously. PUNCH cola time, aww yeah!! I have head-cannoned that this character has a blood sugar issue which is why his PUNCH cola breaks are so carefully timed by his watch. A truck pulls up with plucky teenagers armed with gas cans. Willy's is gonna burn tonight. Liv wants to get "that guy" out first. She taps on the kitchen window and tells him he's not safe in there. There's no obvious way for him to get out, so he just returns to cleaning.

Liv crawls in through an air duct planning to rescue Nic (he's cleaning the ovens at the moment; the man is hyper focused on this job and I respect that) but the Alligator is IN THE AIR DUCTS AFTER HER. NO. NO. NO. Liv tumbles into a Peter Pan esque forest room (ah, couldn't do Pirate's Cove, eh?) and Siren Sara demands she "come play with me". In the kitchen, Nic hears Liv scream.

...I'm not quite sure what happens next; Liv meets Nic saying she "stopped that bitch" (meanwhile, Siren Sara powers quietly down on stage) and that they need to get out of there. Seeing that she's safe and he's not needed for anything, Nic stalks back to the kitchen. Hyperfixation mood. Now he has ADHD as far as I'm concerned.

Elsewhere, the roof caves in and teenagers land in a ball pit. YES. YES. FRESH BLOOD FOR THE BLOOD GOD? WE'LL SEE. The stage comes to life. Liv wants to stab Siren Sara but Nic fireman-carries her on his shoulder to a nearby table. One of the teens does the math and realizes Nic has killed two animatronics. They deem him "badass". It's cute. Nic should herd teenagers more often.

Kissmate has pointed out something I like: Nic respects electronics. He took such care cleaning the pinball machine with love, even using sandpaper to clean the grease off his hands before he touched it again. And the detail cleaning! He doesn't attack the animatronics when they aren't attacking anyone else; when they're on the stage, he gives them their space. I love that about him.

Oh no! The couple I like most--the Black guy and the blond girl--head off alone to make out. Dammit, if they die first while we have two perfectly identical white boys to lose, I'm gonna be pissed. In the kitchen, Liv explains that the whole "oh no, your tires! well, you can work it off" is a trap in the Horror Movie Human Sacrifice Sense and not, like, the Porn Movie Excuse Plot Sense. We get the backstory of Willy's Wonderland: it was built by the Purple Guy, er, I mean a serial killer who hired other serial killers he was mentoring.

This found family of serial killers would toil day in and day out to bring joy to the families of smallville and all they ever asked in return was to occasionally take a family into the special Super Happy Fun Room for slaughter. Several "missing persons" reports and "suspicious smells" (FNAF reference, drink!!) later, smallville's own SWAT team was called in. The serial killers performed a "satanic suicide ritual". Their bodies are very neatly and bloodlessly arranged on the floor.

Their souls moved into the animatronics and Tex tried to reopen but was hampered by the animatronics continually trying to maul the children. After they're forced to closed, Tex starts sacrificing strangers to the animatronics because "Willy got to him. Convinced him to make a deal with the devil." Nic seems totally unfazed by any of this and the teens are frustrated with him. They go out to hear Willy sing a charming song about their deaths, and Knighty Night kills White Guy Brunet.

Well, at least the Black Guy and Blond Girl didn't die first. They're having sex in the Happy Fun Room while Nic just tries to play his pinball machine. Oh dear, strobe light warning. The kids separate and began to be stalked by the animatronics WHO ARE BECOMING TERRIFYING, WELL DONE.

White Guy Blond calls the sheriff and tells her they're at Willy's. She slams the phone down and rubs her face in frustration. The only thing that gets her ass in gear is the revelation that Liv is there too. (Remember: the sheriff is Liv's mom...or something.) The only other non-white teen (I think he's Hispanic?) is killed in the foam pit by Siren Sara and the Turtle. Nic comes off his break at last and stops the Knight from skewering Liv. He beats the Knight to death against the wall.

You might ask why the other adults had so much trouble with these creatures that Nic is able to kill, but I actually like this and don't view it as a plot hole. His character's strength is a willingness to accept whatever his senses tell him is happening. So whereas most people would be like "oh my god this can't be happening run run run", he's just like ok, the animatronic monster presents a threat that I must destroy. He's very focused and singleminded. Hence the relentless cleaning and timed breaks he adheres to religiously.

The Alligator interrupts the coitus and kills the Black Guy and Blond Girl, making them deaths 3 and 4 respectively. Outraged to see two young people cut off in the prime of life, Nic beats the Alligator to death and pulls out its tongue.

Driving to Willy's, the sheriff gives us more backstory on the place: Tex *did* try to bulldoze the place, but anyone who took the job was supernaturally murdered with his family. "Chewed up like hamburger." They tried to just leave the place to rot, but the machines left the pizza parlor and killed elsewhere. Unable to destroy or ignore the haunted place, the town gave in and presented sacrifices to the animatronics.

"We could either go to war with the machines, come off like crazy people, and lose a lot of good people or...cut a deal." They agreed to feed the creatures if they would stay in the pizza parlor. Oh, SHIT. Liv was a child of one of the sacrifices and survived the night. Sheriff took her home to raise her. That's why they don't look alike.

HAHAHA, oh my god. Nic is poised to fight the Chameleon when his watch goes off. He awkwardly gives Liv her knife back and hurries out. I swear to god, this man has, like, ADHD and OCD and blood sugar issues? He has all my things?? Liv holds off Chameleon through another pinball break, then Nic returns with a drain snake to strangle the animatronic.

Sheriff breaks in and stops Nic. "Willy, I'm so sorry about this prick! His actions shouldn't reflect on us!" Liv is dragged out while we get a lovely Rorschach reference: "He's not trapped in here with them, THEY'RE trapped in here with HIM." Always a good line, well done, still the best movie ever. They leave Nic behind, cuffed. Liv is furious and (rightly) calls out Sheriff for doing that to her parents.

Nic kicks the jukebox and a badass country music song comes on and it's a kid's version of "heads, shoulders, knees, and toes". I'm trying not to laugh because it hurts so much, but oh my god. Nic kills Siren Sara with his knees and then I think he breaks the handcuffs by, like, flexing?? Oh, they're not metal cuffs but plastic zipties. Still, he may be Goku.

TIME FOR A NEW SHIRT, AWW YEAH, AND A CLEANING MONTAGE. I have never related to a movie character more than I do to Nic here. My god. He bags the animatronics and gently covers the dead teens in crepe paper. Then, when the place is spotless, he approaches the lone Willy animatronic on stage-- whoops, break time!

Oh yeah, he's a pinball wizard, drinking his PUNCH cola! This is seriously the best movie I've ever seen, I'm not even being sarcastic, what the hell, how is this movie GOOD? It has no business being good!?! It's like $5 on Amazon, it was supposed to be a shitshow.

Nic goes outside to drop off the trash bags and waves politely at the Sheriff in a move that feels so autistic my heart squeezed. It's such a "this is how I mask, right? this is what people do?" This is amazing non-verbal autistic representation. She's stunned and takes him back inside at gunpoint. "Willy needs to eat, and I'm gonna feed him." Willy appears behind her and takes her apart, undoing all Nic's hard work mopping the floors. Willy mauls him and hurls him into the ball pit. Nic hauls himself out and heads into the kitchen where he piles his remaining PUNCH colas into his bag.

In slow motion and with paper glitter in the air, in a fight scene worthy of John Wick, Nic engages in combat with the beast. This is more emotional than The Rock. More sensational than Face Off. More pathos than Con Air. You think that's just the oxycodone talking but no.

Morning. Tex and the mechanic gloat over Nic's car outside Willy's Wonderland. A bag in the garbage tip stirs while they talk. The pizzeria is spotless. Nic pulls on his jacket and pulls off the duct tape. Freebird plays. I'm not even joking. Tex wisely hands over the car keys. Liv climbs into the passenger seat, realizing she's the X-23 to his Logan. They drive away.

CHEKOV'S LIGHTER HAS ENTERED THE SCENE. Siren Sara blows up Tex's car and they burn to death. The flames echo in Nic's sunglasses as he hands a PUNCH cola to Liv and they run down the animatronic Turtle.


Amazon X-Ray assures us on our way out that this is NOT Five Nights At Freddy's, despite similarities. Bless. That was the best movie ever, and not just because I'm in pain. It's apparently on Hulu or $5 at Amazon and it's worth every penny. Also? This soundtrack slaps, find it on Spotify, play the one at the bottom of the list ("Willy's Wonderland") by Emoi!!


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