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WILLY’S WONDERLAND: 3 ½ STARS. “the kind of performance that only Cage can deliver.”

Nicolas Cage returns to V.O.D. with “Willy’s Wonderland,” a unique blend of satanic possession and Chucky Cheese.

Cage plays a mysterious drifter who finds himself stranded in a small town with a dark history. Picked up by a tow truck driver after running over a spike strip on a stretch of lonesome highway, he’s told it’ll cost $1000 to repair his car. Trouble is, the mechanic doesn’t take credit cards and there isn’t an ATM in sight. With no way of paying, a local businessman makes him an offer. Spend the night cleaning Willy’s Wonderland, a kid’s restaurant that’s been closed for years, and the next morning the car will be fixed and returned, no questions asked.

Easy gig. Or is it?

Turns out the drifter is the latest in a series of sent folks sent to the abandoned building as   human sacrifices to mollify the evil, restless spirits that live within. You know those paintings with the eyes that follow you as you walk by? Imagine those, except they’re not paintings, but creepy kid’s mascots with cute names like Ozzie Ostrich and Tito Turtle. At first, he notices their eyes following him as he wipes down the banquets. Soon though, it becomes clear Ozzie and the others have murder on their minds.

Add a group of dispensable teenagers to the cauldron and you have a strange mix-and-match of an 80s slasher flick and a kid’s birthday party gone terribly wrong.

“Willy’s Wonderland” continues the saga of Cage’s baffling career choices but is a bit of fun.

The idea of children’s mascots possessed by the spirits of serial killers is pure Midnight Madness and Cage adds to the movie’s unhinged playfulness with a wordless, singular performance that could only have emerged from an Oscar winner intent on letting his freak flag fly. He plays pinball, glowers, does an orgasmic dance, chugs innumerable cans of soda and dispatches mascots with ruthless efficiency. It is the kind of work we’ve come to expect from Cage and the kind of performance that only he can deliver.

It won’t be for everyone, but it fits in perfectly in a movie featuring a cuddly mascot growling, “I’m gonna feast on your face!”


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