Willy's Wonderland

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Willy's Wonderland
Theatrical release poster.
Directed byKevin Lewis
Screenplay byG. O. Parsons
Produced by
CinematographyDavid Newbert
Edited byRyan Liebert
Music byÉmoi
  • Landmark Studio Group
  • Baffin Media LTD
  • Saturn Films
  • JD Entertainment
  • Landafar Entertainment
Distributed byScreen Media Films
Release date
  • February 12, 2021 (2021-02-12) (United States)
Running time
88 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$5 million[1]
Box office$457,144[2][3]

Willy's Wonderland is a 2021 American action comedy horror film directed by Kevin Lewis from a screenplay written by G. O. Parsons.[4] The film stars Nicolas Cage, who also served as producer, along with Emily Tosta, Ric Reitz, David Sheftell and Beth Grant. It follows a quiet drifter who is tricked into cleaning up an abandoned family entertainment center inhabited by eight murderous animatronic characters who are possessed with the souls of a cannibalistic killer and his seven psychotic colleagues.

The project was announced in October 2019, with screenwriter Parsons having conceived the idea. It caught Cage's attention, who agreed to participate as both an actor and a producer.[5] Lewis was hired as director in December 2019 while the main cast joined in February 2020.[6]

Willy's Wonderland was originally set for a worldwide theatrical release on October 30, 2020, but was postponed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, it was released through video on demand, with a simultaneous limited theatrical release in the United States, on February 12, 2021, by Screen Media Films. The film received mixed-to-positive reviews, with praise to Cage's performance, the dark humor and the animatronics' realistic movements but with criticism for its screenplay, plot and characters.


When his vehicle breaks down outside of Hayesville, North Carolina, a quiet drifter is picked up by mechanic Jed Love, who takes him to Willy's Wonderland, a once-successful abandoned family entertainment center. Owner Tex Macadoo offers him to work as a night-shift janitor in exchange for repairing his vehicle before he and Jed leave him locked inside the restaurant. Meanwhile, teenager Liv Hawthorne attempts to burn the restaurant but she gets handcuffed by her parental guardian, Hayesville's sheriff Eloise Lund. When Lund leaves, Liv's friends Chris Muley, Kathy Barnes, Aaron Powers, Bob McDaniel, and Dan Lorraine release her.

As the Janitor begins his duties, the restaurant's eight now-withered animatronic mascots —Willy Weasel, Arty Alligator, Cammy Chameleon, Ozzie Ostrich, Tito Turtle, Knighty Knight, Gus Gorilla, and Siren Sara— are revealed to be alive and homicidal. Ozzie attacks the Janitor, who beats him to death with a mop. While her friends douse the perimeter with gasoline, Liv enters the restaurant through the vents to get the Janitor out. Simultaneously, the Janitor is attacked by Gus in the restrooms; he curb stomps his face into a urinal, killing him. In the vents, Arty chases Liv but she escapes into a fairy-themed room where Sara kidnaps her. Liv manages to fend off Sara and encounters the Janitor, who ignores her warnings about the animatronics and refuses to leave.

Outside the restaurant, Liv's friends climb to the roof, which collapses and causes them to fall inside. While the Janitor cleans the kitchen, Liv explains that Willy's Wonderland was originally owned by Jerry Robert Willis, a notorious serial killer. With his seven cannibalistic colleagues, he often slaughtered unsuspecting families, but the authorities eventually discovered them. They committed a satanic ritual to transfer their souls into the animatronics before committing suicide. When Liv finishes, several animatronics awaken and attack the group. In the ensuing chaos, Knighty impales Aaron with his sword, Tito and Sara devour Dan alive, and Arty mauls Kathy and Bob to death in a party room. With Liv standing in awe, the Janitor decapitates Knighty and breaks Arty's jaws, killing them both.

As Cammy stalks him in an arcade, Chris calls Lund for help; she goes to the restaurant with deputy sheriff Evan Olson upon learning that Liv is there. On the way, Lund reveals to Evan that after Willy's Wonderland was shut down, the animatronics continued murdering people around Hayesville until she, Tex, and Jed made a deal with them. Over the years, they tricked random drifters into cleaning up the restaurant, offering them as human sacrifices in order to stop the animatronics' killing spree. Liv's parents were among the victims and a guilty Lund adopted her. When the Janitor and Liv arrive at the arcade, Cammy snaps Chris' neck, killing him. They subdue Cammy and attempt to leave before Lund and Evan stop them. Lund handcuffs the Janitor and leaves him to die as Evan takes Liv away. While driving back, Evan is killed by a stowaway Tito while Liv escapes.

In the restaurant, the Janitor subdues Sara and twists Cammy's head, killing her. Enraged, Lund tries to lure Willy to kill the Janitor, only for Willy to tear her in half. Willy and the Janitor fight each other until the Janitor kills Willy by ripping his head off. The next morning, Tex and Jed return to the restaurant and find it completely clean, with the animatronics missing. The Janitor receives his repaired vehicle and invites Liv to accompany him. While Tex and Jed discuss planning to re-open Willy's Wonderland, Sara suddenly appears and sets their car on fire with gasoline. All three are killed in a massive explosion that also destroys the entire restaurant.

As the sun rises, the Janitor and Liv drive out of the town, killing a wandering Tito along the way.


Human cast[edit]

Nicolas Cage stars as the Janitor
  • Nicolas Cage as the Janitor
  • Emily Tosta as Liv Hawthorne
  • Beth Grant as Sheriff Eloise Lund
  • David Sheftell as Deputy Evan Olson
  • Ric Reitz as Tex Macadoo
  • Chris Warner as Jed Love
  • Kai Kadlec as Chris Muley
  • Caylee Cowan as Kathy Barnes
  • Terayle Hill as Bob McDaniel
  • Christian Del Grosso as Aaron Powers
  • Jonathan Mercedes as Dan Lorraine
  • Grant Cramer as Jerry Robert Willis
  • Chris Padilla as Jim Hawthorne
  • Olga Cramer as Judy Hawthorne
  • Kamia Arrington as Little Liv

Also appearing in supporting roles are Jason Tyler as Eric Miller, a construction worker hired to demolish the restaurant; Ryan Kightlinger as a biker hired as a previous janitor; Joseph and Jessica Teagle as a Hippie couple also hired as previous janitors; Lawreen K. Yakkel, Ashann Bachan, Kevin Brown, Eduardo Lozano, Nathaniel Smith Jr., and D. J. Stavropoulos as members of Jerry Robert Willis' satanic cult; Michael Woodruff, J. J. Madaris, Robert Howell, Chris Speck, Benton Eden, and Elliott Boswell as ATF agents; Jared Soto as a homeless man; Kandace Lee as a smoker killed by Willy Weasel, and Miles Woodruff as a birthday boy from the flashbacks.

Animatronic cast[edit]

Character Performer Voice
Willy Weasel Jiri Stanek Émoi
Tito Turtle Chris Schmidt Jr. Abel Arias
Ozzie Ostrich B. J. Guyer
Gus Gorilla Billy Bussey Mark Gagliardi
Cammy Chameleon Taylor Towery Madisun Leigh
Siren Sara Jessica Graves
Knighty Knight Duke Jackson Unvoiced
Arty Alligator Christopher Bradley



The film was first announced in October 2019 by Screen Media Films after screenwriter and producer G. O. Parsons was advised to create a film to expand his career around 2015 to early 2016, but was displeased with his first attempt, a short film titled Wally's Wonderland.[7] He put the script on Blood List, seeking to have it produced as a full-length film.[8] Shortly after, Deadline Hollywood confirmed that Nicolas Cage had joined the cast after the script, which became popular on the site, caught his attention.[9] Cage also agreed to produce the film along with producers Jeremy Davis from JD Entertainment and veteran actor-turned-producer Grant Cramer from Landafar Entertainment, in collaboration with Mike Nilon from Cage's Saturn Films.[6] Kevin Lewis was hired as director while the cast, including Emily Tosta, Beth Grant and Ric Reitz, joined in February 2020.[10]

After the announcement, the film received a small cult following, with many comparing it to the Five Nights at Freddy's video game series, although Parsons and Lewis denied any similarities. The custom pinball machine in the film was based on the 1982 Gottlieb table Devil's Dare.[11] Certain changes were made during production; the title was changed from Wally's Wonderland to Willy's Wonderland due to legal issues; and original animatronic characters Douglas Dog, Pauly Penguin, Beary Bear, Pirate Pete, and Regina Rabbit were replaced with Arty Alligator, Tito Turtle, Gus Gorilla, Knighty Knight, and Cammy Chameleon, respectively.

Lewis described the film as "Pale Rider vs. Killer Klowns from Outer Space", and cites Panos Cosmatos' Beyond the Black Rainbow as an inspiration.[12] Cosmatos previously worked with Nicolas Cage in Mandy (2018). One of the producers, Grant Cramer, starred in Killer Klowns from Outer Space.


Principal photography began in February 2020 for a month in various parts of Atlanta, Georgia.[13] The crew used a desolated bowling alley in the Sprayberry Crossing shopping center in East Cobb, Marietta for the fictional Willy's Wonderland family entertainment center, setting-up a huge basecamp with housing facilities for the crew members due to the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.[14] Special effects for the film were done by production designer Molly Coffee, whose expertise in design and fabrication with puppetry helped to create the visual movement and appearance for the eight animatronic characters.[14]


Willy's Wonderland:
Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Soundtrack album by
ReleasedFebruary 12, 2021
LabelFilmtrax LTD

On February 12, 2021, Filmtrax LTD released the score soundtrack for the film composed by Émoi. Producer Grant Cramer performed a track titled "Just The Way I Roll", which appeared in the film's end credits.[15]

All tracks are written by Émoi

1."The Birthday Song And Willy's Jingle"0:54
2."Road to Hayesville"2:06
3."The Janitor"2:31
4."Would You Mind If I Keep You in Mind"2:25
5."Face Off"3:20
6."Pinball Romance"1:19
7."Ozzie Ostrich"2:21
8."The Bathroom From Hell"1:55
9."Clap Your Hands"0:52
10."Gus Gorilla"1:27
11."Arty Alligator"2:39
12."Siren Sara"1:45
13."We're All Friends"0:56
14."Super Happy Fun Room"0:32
15."It Never Bothered You Before"1:40
16."A Dark History"2:44
17."Six Little Chickens"0:45
18."The Death Anthem"2:42
19."Knighty Knight"1:45
20."In Town We Knew What Was Happening"3:15
21."Cammy Chameleon"3:22
22."Head Shoulders Knees Toes"1:44
23."Tito Turtle"0:46
24."Willy Weasel"3:11
25."The Janitor and Liv"1:12
26."Just The Way I Roll"2:41
27."Willy's Wonderland"3:02
Total length:53:51


On January 29, 2021, to promote the film, G. O. Parsons announced on his Twitter feed that original Willy's Wonderland T-shirts identical to the staff shirt Nicolas Cage wears in the film, would be available.[16]

Comic book series[edit]

On June 25, 2021, Parsons confirmed that American Mythology Productions would release a comic book series serving as a prequel to the film. The four issues were released from October 2021 to July 2022 and centers on the characters' backstories.[17]


Willy's Wonderland was scheduled for worldwide theatrical release on October 30, 2020, but was removed from the calendar due to the COVID-19 pandemic causing the closure of theaters across the globe. It was announced on January 15, 2021, that it would be available for digital distribution. It was eventually released through video on demand and received a limited theatrical release on February 12, 2021. Due to being delayed by the pandemic, it was released in Saudi Arabia on September 23, 2021.

Box office[edit]

Willy's Wonderland grossed $418,286 in North America and grossed $38,858 in other territories for a worldwide total of $457,144, against a budget of $5 million.

The film grossed around $97,164 in its opening day and made $107,145 over the four-day Presidents' Day weekend. The following day, it grossed $203,886, with Croatia grossing $12,734 and the UAE grossing $14,191.[18][19]

Critical response[edit]

On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 61% based on 92 reviews, with an average rating of 5.7/10. The site's critical consensus reads: "Willy's Wonderland isn't quite as much fun as its premise would suggest—but it's still got Nicolas Cage beating the hell out of bloodthirsty animatronics, which is nice."[20] Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, assigned the film a score of 44 out of 100, based on 14 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[21]

Variety's Owen Gleiberman wrote: "Kevin Lewis's giant-furry-funhouse-mascot slasher movie knows how preposterous it is but plays it straight".[22] Nick De Semlyn of Empire gave the film a score of three out of five stars, concluding that, "though the dialogue and plotting are no great shakes, that commitment to the concept, combined with Cage's swaggering soda-swigger, is enough to make this a good time."[23] IGN's Matt Fowler rated the film six out of ten, writing that "There's not enough here to score high marks, but there's cartoonish carnage aplenty and that warrants a passing grade."[24] Anton Bitel from VODzilla.com awarded the film a score of seven out of ten, saying: "It is set in an amusement centre for children, but comes with adult doses of foul-mouthed language, sex, gore and death. Its scenarios feel a little rote, but are enlivened by the craziness that Cage brings to everything".[25]

Kimberley Elizabeth from Nightmare on Film Street gave the film a score of 7.5/10, commenting: "Nicolas Cage['s] unique brand of kickassery is the jelly to this animatronic PB & J Horror sandwich".[26] Alix Turner of Ready Steady Cut wrote: "Daft plot, fabulous fight scenes, teenagers in peril and plenty of gore. Sure, the film could have been better, but it didn't exactly need to be: this was thoroughly entertaining" and gave to it a rating of 3.5 on 5.[27] Charles Barfield of The Playlist gave a similar opinion and rated the film with a "B+".[28] Nicolás Delgadillo of DiscussingFilm.net called the film "unapologetically ridiculous" and "a bizarre hidden gem thrown into Cage's already vast and eclectic body of work."[29]

Reviewer A.A. Dowd from The A.V. Club described the film as a "chintzy Five Nights At Freddy’s mockbuster".[30]

Possible sequel[edit]

In an interview, G. O. Parsons stated he had an idea for a sequel if the film got enough support.[31] In February 2021, it was announced that a sequel was being actively discussed.[32]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Munro, Shaun (February 12, 2021). "Movie Review – Willy's Wonderland (2021)". Flickering Myth. Archived from the original on August 2, 2021. Retrieved March 3, 2021.
  2. ^ "Willy's Wonderland". The Numbers. Nash Information Services, LLC. Retrieved March 30, 2021.
  3. ^ "Willy's Wonderland". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved March 30, 2021.
  4. ^ "'Willy's Wonderland' Trailer Traps Nicolas Cage in a Nightmare World of Killer Animatronics". MovieWeb. January 15, 2021. Archived from the original on January 16, 2021. Retrieved January 17, 2021.
  5. ^ "Watch Nicolas Cage battle giant animatronic animals in 'Willy's Wonderland' teaser". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on January 15, 2021. Retrieved January 17, 2021.
  6. ^ a b Wiseman, Andreas (October 29, 2019). "Nicolas Cage To Star In Genre Thriller 'Wally's Wonderland'". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on December 29, 2019. Retrieved July 13, 2020.
  7. ^ C, Mark (February 25, 2021). "WILLY'S WONDERLAND Interview: Director Kevin Lewis On Casting Nicolas Cage, Possible Sequel, & More". ComicBookMovie.com. Archived from the original on March 5, 2021. Retrieved March 3, 2021.
  8. ^ Flowers, Maisy (July 3, 2020). "Everything We Know So Far About Willy's Wonderland". Screen Rant. Archived from the original on March 22, 2021. Retrieved March 3, 2021.
  9. ^ "Nicolas Cage to Star in Twisted Theme Park Thriller 'Wally's'". The Hollywood Reporter. October 30, 2019. Archived from the original on November 29, 2020. Retrieved December 5, 2020.
  10. ^ Wiseman, Andreas (February 5, 2020). "'Party Of Five' Star Emily Tosta Joins Nicolas Cage In Genre Thriller 'Wally's Wonderland'". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on April 8, 2020. Retrieved March 3, 2020.
  11. ^ Murrill, Spencer (February 25, 2021). "The Making of Willy's Wonderland Pinball". This Week in Pinball. Archived from the original on February 25, 2021. Retrieved February 27, 2021.
  12. ^ Beyond the Black Rainbow.
  13. ^ Miska, Brad (February 22, 2020). "New Shot of Nicolas Cage in 'Wally's Wonderland'". Bloody Disgusting. Archived from the original on April 7, 2020. Retrieved July 17, 2020.
  14. ^ a b Chakrabartty, Nishan (February 11, 2021). "Where Was Willy's Wonderland Filmed? Movie's Real Filming Locations". The Cinemaholic. Archived from the original on April 17, 2021. Retrieved March 3, 2021.
  15. ^ "Willy's Wonderland: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack". www.amazon.com. Archived from the original on March 6, 2023. Retrieved March 3, 2021.
  16. ^ Squires, John (January 29, 2021). "There's Now an Official 'Willy's Wonderland' T-Shirt Based on the One Nicolas Cage Wears in the Movie". Bloody Disgusting!. Archived from the original on March 3, 2021. Retrieved July 20, 2021.
  17. ^ Squires, John (June 25, 2021). "'Willy's Wonderland' Prequel Comic Releasing This Halloween Season". Bloody Disgusting!. Archived from the original on July 20, 2021. Retrieved July 20, 2021.
  18. ^ "The film was gross in the Opening Day". Archived from the original on August 2, 2021. Retrieved September 10, 2021.
  19. ^ "Willy's Wonderland Trailer: Nicolas Cage Must Slay Animatronics To Survive". Screen Rant. January 15, 2021. Archived from the original on January 16, 2021. Retrieved January 15, 2021.
  20. ^ "Willy's Wonderland". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved March 3, 2021.
  21. ^ "Willy's Wonderland". Metacritic. Fandom, Inc. Retrieved March 3, 2021.
  22. ^ Gleiberman, Owen (February 13, 2021). "'Willy's Wonderland' Review: Nicolas Cage Faces Off Against Animatronic Kiddie Monsters in a Horror Bash That Revels in its Cageness". Variety. Archived from the original on May 18, 2021. Retrieved February 14, 2021.
  23. ^ De Semlyn, Nick (February 9, 2021). "Willy's Wonderland Review". Empire. Archived from the original on April 19, 2021. Retrieved February 14, 2021.
  24. ^ Fowler, Matt (February 12, 2021). "Willy's Wonderland Review". IGN. Archived from the original on July 2, 2021. Retrieved February 14, 2021.
  25. ^ Bitel, Anton. "VOD film review: Willy's Wonderland (2021)". VODzilla.co. Archived from the original on February 14, 2021. Retrieved February 14, 2021.
  26. ^ Elizabeth, Kimberly (February 12, 2021). "[Review] Nicolas Cage Battles Evil Animatronics in Willy's Wonderland and We Likey". Nightmare on Film Street. Archived from the original on February 23, 2021. Retrieved February 14, 2021.
  27. ^ Turner, Alix (February 12, 2021). "Willy's Wonderland review – punch and pop aplenty from Cage, mighty and moody as ever". Ready Steady Cut. Archived from the original on April 17, 2021. Retrieved February 14, 2021.
  28. ^ Barfield, Charles. "'Willy's Wonderland' Is A Bonkers Ode To '80s Horror With A Caffeine-Fueled, Pinball-Obsessed Nicolas Cage [Review]". The Playlist. Archived from the original on February 20, 2021. Retrieved February 14, 2021.
  29. ^ Delgadillo, Nicolás (February 13, 2021). "'Willy's Wonderland' Review – Nicolas Cage Kicking Animatronic Ass". DiscussingFilm. Archived from the original on March 3, 2021. Retrieved March 5, 2021.
  30. ^ "Nic Cage stars in the Five Nights At Freddy's mockbuster Willy's Wonderland". The A.V. Club. February 12, 2021. Archived from the original on August 4, 2023. Retrieved August 4, 2023.
  31. ^ Parker, Cris (Interviewer); Parsons, G. O. (Interviewee) (January 21, 2021). Talking To The Creator of Willys Wonderland About FNAF, Animatronics & MORE!. 3C Films on YouTube. Event occurs at 27 minutes. Archived from the original on March 6, 2023. Retrieved February 14, 2021.
  32. ^ Weiss, Josh (February 17, 2021). "'Willy's Wonderland' director sees his Evil Dead send-up as the next great horror entry in the Nic Cage 'genre'". SYFY WIRE. Archived from the original on March 4, 2021. Retrieved March 13, 2021.

External links[edit]