Willard review by The Grim Ringler

This sorta falls under the I didnt really wanna see this category of films that we all have. It didnt look bad, not at all, but it didnt look that interesting. It just looked, well, like it was there. I actually got a chance to see it today and having seen it, I have to admit that I was completely wrong in my quick dismissal in what truly is a pretty darned effective spook show.

Willard stars Crispin Glover in the lead role and finds him a man-child beaten and bullied by all that surround him. Taking care of an ailing/dying mother that treats him as if he is a child. Living in a giant tomb of a house, Willard lives in the shadows, avoiding his mother and indeed everything as we soon see. His work life is no better as he works at a company his father had helped to create but that was sold sometime before his suicide. Miserable at work and working for his awful boss but too meek to find his own path, Willard suffers in silence to the constant insults and humiliations his boss heaps upon him. Friendless, hopeless, and stifled in everything he does, Willard is a shadow that seems to slink through each day in the hopes of becoming invisible and being left alone. All this changes though when his mother sends Willard to the decrepit basement of their home to get rid of some rats she has seen prowling about. Willard starts out to do as his mother bid him until that is he actually captures one of the rats and, seeing how it still fights, even though it has been trapped by a glue strip, he sees something of what he wants to be in it and, pulling it free of his trap, he has suddenly made a friend. What he finds though is that Socrates, his new ratty friend, isnt alone and that suddenly Willard has dozens and dozens of new friends, all willing to follow his simple commands (when fed and trained), but all of them under his control so long as Ben, the true king of the rats here, aligns himself with Willard. As Willards life begins to spin out of control Ben sees his chance to begin taking over the house, which leads eventually to the death of Willards mother, and which also leads to a quickly escalating war for power between Willard and Ben. Fearing that he is losing control, Willard and Ben engage in a war of attrition that engulfs the house and Willard is quickly seeing this is a war he cannot win as his house is invaded with hundreds upon hundreds of rats who all follow the will of the enormous Ben. Soon after Willards mother dies, his boss fires Willard, his obligation to keep the boy working for him having died with the mother, and now has his sights set on taking the house from Willard in a final insult. With Socrates dead at his boss hands Willard decides its time to put an end to his boss and in so doing, an end to Ben as well. His plan doesnt work as hed hoped though and sets up one final battle in the house between Willard and Ben and his massive army of rats.

All told, Willard is a pretty effective movie and has a lot going for it. The film is shot wonderfully and looks about as much like a Tim Burton film as it could without him having shot it. And director Wong does a great job of shooting the rats, especially Ben, making sure to always shoot him atop something and looking up at him, making him much bigger than he truly is and making him a character that has as much interest to the viewer as Willard does. Glover does a very good job with the character of Willard and brings a fragile humanity to someone that could have either come across as a monster, or as a parody of a bad guy. Instead we have a very human man that, much like the lead character of May, finds himself so isolated and alienated that he feels he has little choice but to become a monster in order to survive. My only wish is that Glover didnt go into hysterics when he was upset but that he got quieter and quieter as he got angrier. I think it would have been a much better, much more chilling take on Willard and would have added more menace to the character. R. Lee Ermey turns in another great performance as well Willards evil boss and he does a great job of not making the character into 1. an imitation of his classic drill sergeant from Full Metal Jacket 2. making him a human villain that is evil for human reasons (greed, power, etc.). I am very surprised at how successful the film actually comes together, focusing more on the struggle between Willard and Ben than on Willards enemies as I thought it would (and as the trailers lead one to believe). I think if I had one gripe about the movie itd be that as soon as it gets to the climax logic seems to go out the window in the name of a suspenseful final act. And heck, I am all for that as, if you look at my movie collection, a lack of logic can be a very fun thing, but in the case of Willard it just worked to frustrate me, making me ponder why the hell is Willard trying to fight off an army of rats in his house instead of facing the police on his doorstep and giving himself up to them?

There are actually quite a few extras on the disc for a movie that kinda came and went without much fanfare. You get two documentaries, one about the making of the film, the other about rats. You get a jam-packed commentary track. You get some pretty good deleted scenes. And you even get a, umm, interesting video for Ben, as sung by Crispin Glover. Oh my! The film has great sound and uses surround very well and the image is clean and the disc does a wonderful job of showing off the great cinematography that was done on the film.

A pretty darn good remake and a very effective PG-13 horror movie, while I am not completely in love with it as a whole, the film plays very well and is held together wonderfully by Glovers brilliant interpretation of Willard. Considering I had zero interest in this film it held my attention well and left me happy to have seen it. Good show.


8 out of 10 Jackasses
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