Willard (2003 film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Glen Morgan|
|Produced by||Glen Morgan
|Written by||Stephen Gilbert
R. Lee Ermey
Laura Elena Harring
|Music by||Shirley Walker|
|Editing by||James Coblentz|
|Studio||Hard Eight Pictures|
|Distributed by||New Line Cinema|
|Running time||100 minutes|
Willard is a 2003 horror film loosely based on the novel Ratman's Notebooks by Stephen Gilbert and a remake of the 1971 film Willard. It was not billed as a remake by the producers, but as a re-working of the themes from the original, with a stronger focus on suspense.
Willard Stiles (Crispin Glover) is a social misfit taking care of his ill and fragile but verbally abusive mother Henrietta (Jackie Burroughs) in a musty old mansion that is also home to a colony of rats. Willard finds himself constantly humiliated in front of his co-workers by his cruel boss, Frank Martin (R. Lee Ermey), a vicious man who assumed control of the company of Willard's father upon his death, and whose professional interest in Willard extends to a personal financial one. A co-worker, Cathryn (Laura Elena Harring), has sympathy for the quirky Willard. Cathryn becomes Willard's friend and love interest.
Willard quickly becomes obsessed with his friendship with a rat he names Socrates. Willard then begins to train and befriend the other rats including an extra large one he calls Ben. Ben begins to assume a position of "leadership" among the other rats, while Socrates remains Willard's favorite. Willard's mother panics when she overhears the rats and later dies by falling down the stairs of the basement. Willard learns soon afterward that payments on the house have fallen far behind, and that the bank will likely foreclose upon the property. Willard then says that Socrates is all he has left.
Cathryn stops by and gives Willard a house-trained cat named Sculley, he sets the cat inside and leaves. The rats, led by Ben, attack and kill Sculley. When Willard arrives home he notices Ben watching him evilly; Willard begins to distrust Ben thereafter.
Desperately lonely, Willard begins to bring Socrates to work with him. Willard finds a note at his desk declaring that he's being fired by Frank Martin from the company his father founded. While he's arguing with Martin, begging not to be fired, Socrates is discovered by a coworker in the supply room. Her screams alert Martin who bludgeons Socrates to death. Willard, his mental state already precarious, is devastated. Willard turns to Ben, who is more than willing to guide the army of basement rats to help Willard avenge himself upon his boss. Willard and his basement rats confront Martin, and upon Willard's command they swarm Martin and tear him apart.
Willard, however, mistrusts Ben and attempts to dispose of him and the other rats. He succeeds in killing some, but Ben remains, and turns the remaining rat army against Willard. Willard barely escapes with his life, and kills Ben. But an epilogue reveals that he has retreated into a semi-catatonic state and been placed in a mental institution. There he finds a new white rat, which looks like Socrates and he believes is the rebirth of his one friend. In the end Willard beckons the rat over to him and says "It's not over yet, no! Our time is going to come."
- Crispin Glover as Willard Stiles: An antisocial worker for Martin-Stiles Manufacturing, a business that was originally started by his father but was "stolen" by Frank Martin. Willard is constantly tormented by his boss and his beloved mother. He befriends a colony of rats, especially a white rat named Socrates and a big rat named Ben. When his torment finally makes Willard vengeful, he uses his rats to get revenge, transforming into a sociopath.
- R. Lee Ermey as Frank Martin: A cruel and uncaring CEO of Martin-Stiles Manufacturing. He constantly humiliates Willard for his late arrivals at work and even kills his pet rat Socrates. He is eventually eaten alive by Willard's rats.
- Laura Elena Harring as Cathryn: A co-worker and love interest of Willard who sympathizes with him, even going so far as to angrily quit her job when she learns of Willard's firing, until she realizes his involvement in Martin's murder.
- Jackie Burroughs as Henrietta Stiles: Willard's ill yet verbally abusive mother who even calls him "Clark" since she hates his real name.
- Kimberly Patton aka Ashlyn Gere as Ms. Leach: A cynical secretary for Frank Martin.
- William S. Taylor as Mr. Garter: A trustee of the Stiles estate who informs Willard of dire financial straits after Willard's mother dies.
- Ty Olsson as Officer Salmon: A policeman who discovers Willard is "nuts."
- Bruce Davison who portrayed the character, Willard, in the original 1971 film, appears in photographs in the 2003 film as Willard's father.
- Michael Jackson's version of the song Ben, which was played during the ending credits of the original sequel, Ben, is also played during one of the scenes in the 2003 film when the rats attack a cat.
Box office 
The film opened at #8 at the U.S. Box office and grossed $4,010,593 USD in its first opening weekend, falling to #13 the following week. It grossed $6,886,089 in domestic box office and $1,660,577 in foreign box office.
- Crispin Glover was nominated for Best Actor at the 2004 Saturn Awards.
- Robert McLachlan won the CSC award at the Canadian Society of Cinematographers Awards for Best Cinematography in a Theatrical Feature.
- The DVD release was nominated for a Golden Satellite award in Best DVD Extras at the 2004 Satellite Awards.
- Willard at the Internet Movie Database
- Willard at Metacritic
- Willard at Rotten Tomatoes
- Willard at Box Office Mojo