The newest descendant of Cagesploitation before Prisoners of the Ghostland and The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, Willy’s Wonderland plays the horror comedy cards without a hitch. Brought to the fore thanks to its similarities to the video game story Five Nights at Freddy, it was recently released on VOD in the United States, where it has garnered mixed reviews. An all in all logical acceptance.
In recent years, Nicolas Cage has passed a new stage in his completely anarchic career. Silently abandoning the worst zederies in which he was forced to participate to finance a disproportionate lifestyle like his personality, he is now content to play alone, flattering the audience – a cult – completely devoted to his genius. Thus he created a new cinematographic space-time, where his communicative madness became a selling point, a narrative engine, even a subject of study.
Willy’s Wonderland, which the actor produced, clearly professes to be part of the movement, to the point of making his characters non-characteristic, vehicles for his hallucinatory aura. It’s important to see how director Kevin Lewis, with the involvement of screenwriter GO Parsons, delivers raw iconization, and it’s this from the hero’s first plan, letting us gradually discover his new capillary incarnation.
A big protagonist, quiet and mysterious, the officer wants to be a humorous version of the archetype la Sergio Leone, namely the nameless man, who hides inner violence under a varnish that must not crack, under the punishment of being subjected to it. The consequence, here, manifests itself in a fight against an army of possessed animatronics, greedily eating the poor stranger who came to clean up their park, the infamous Willy’s Wonderland.
Except that unlike the snipers embodied by Clint Eastwood, Charles Bronson or even Ryan Gosling, to cite more recent examples, the officer leaves no clues about the violent conflict that lies dormant within him, or his supposedly tragic past. He kept his cool, defeating mechanical beasts with the power of his arms and the Monster Drink sub-brand.
And despite all the energy that went into creating a caricature of his legend, this film only manages to touch him with his fingertips. Because while turning Cage into a machine to kill machine might seem tempting at first glance, the idea quickly shows its limits in execution. The actor is indeed more developed in expressive roles, where he can unleash his wild improvisational powers.
The opposite of the janitor at Willy’s Wonderland, who is allowed to loosen his teeth only during countless games of pinball. Entrusting the lead role to the freewheel king without giving him the slightest answer to state in an enlightened tone (hero never speaks, saves him from studying the text) is pure and wasteful, no matter what. The screenwriter definitely has his charisma.
The previous Cageries, even when they made the actor rude, gave him enough time to express himself. We certainly remember the slippages from Mandy, or even Jiu Jitsu, but far from the famous ones, where the brevity of his appearance was offset by an impossible look and a few lines that felt. None of that in this feature film, frustrating the actor’s fans (ours included, how did you guess?) to whom he’s dedicated. It’s a shame, because the character in him, who is almost programmed to complete the absurd task entrusted to him, turns out to be funny at the idea.
As such, Cage’s omnipresence, whose rituals occupy a certain place, quickly plunges the story into a fairly schematic mechanic, especially on a secondary character level, all destined for the slaughterhouse, except for the hero and his protégé a little too much. .rapidly adopted. An illegible management of space, a bestiary with too little detail, or even a narrative forced to use two long flashbacks to tell a story of assumed folly is bound to suffer. By betting too much on the erased Nic Cage, which we won’t miss, the film is getting a little on the carpet. Very cute rug.
For these faults like any other film, very honest and even touching at times, but persistent in emulating his best ideas. Lewis’ style is very clearly claimed to be Sam Raimi, with his schoolboy and Bruce Campbell’s own expressionism. Hence permanent over-cutting, playing with innumerable inserts and impossible angles to provide a fun character for all.spirit.
A genuine and refreshing approach that doesn’t allow limited budgets as an excuse. He worked to the maximum of what he had, from settings that were of course difficult to grasp, but were quickly enhanced by the aesthetic inventions of photography director David Newbert to antagonists that were well thought out to avoid using CGI as much as possible. , and his hideous face demanded to be crushed by Cage’s fury.
But then again, Lewis gets a little entangled in his stylistic effects, multiplying them too quickly without enjoying his modeling moves. With its mind-boggling speed and haste, Willy’s Wonderland spoils its main interest, namely the battle against an animatronic squad that is completely distorted by the shameful lack of choreography and the frantic proliferation of debulled shots.