An official Five Nights at Freddy’s film was announced all the way back in 2015, but it hasn’t made much progress yet. In 2018, FNAF creator Scott Cawthon said that finding a good screenplay had been a “a real challenge.” In fact, he’d completed a script for the project, but then decided he didn’t like it, so he scrapped it and started over. In November 2020, however, he said he’d finally come up with something he liked, and that filming would commence in spring 2021.
But while Cawthon was being meticulous about getting it right, Academy Award-winning actor Nicolas Cage was getting things done.
Willy’s Wonderland stars Cage as The Janitor, a mysterious drifter who makes a deal to clean a decrepit fast food joint in exchange for repairs to his car. The joint is haunted—cursed—and Nic is meant to be nothing more than the next human sacrifice. But he has a job to do, and heavens help anyone, or anything, who gets in his way.
There’s a lot to take in here. Cage scowls, screams, and does his kinetic clap-and-point thing, but doesn’t actually speak a single word. The Watchmen’s best, most famous line is blatantly swiped: “He’s not trapped in here with them—they’re trapped in here with him!” And of course the whole thing is a very obvious, red-handed ripoff of Five Nights at Freddy’s, also a tale of survival amidst a tacky restaurant overrun with possessed animatronics.
Willy’s Wonderland was announced in 2019 but went largely unnoticed, probably because of the entirely unremarkable description: “Cage will play a janitor, forced to spend the night in a twisted amusement park where he is pulled into a living nightmare,” Deadline said at the time. “As the threatening animatronic characters come to life, the janitor has to fight his way from one monster to another to survive until morning and get out of the park.”
All due respect to Cage—who, for the record, I find incredibly entertaining—but his body of work over the past few years has been plentiful but not exactly a threat at any Golden Globes ceremonies. He’s had some cult hits like Mandy, but the synopsis for Willy’s Wonderland sounded like another of the many low budget Cage actioners of the last decade (remember Jiu Jitsu? Probably not.)
Now that we have a trailer, though, Willy’s Wonderland suddenly stands out, both as a shameless ripoff and a spectacular piece of modern-day grindhouse starring a one-time Hollywood heavyweight with legitimate acting chops. I need to see this film.