Nicolas Cage apparently needed money and I am so glad for that.
A drifter (Nicolas Cage) runs over a spike strip in the middle of the road in a remote Nevada town. He’s picked up by a local mechanic named Jed (Chris Warner), who tells him that he will only fix the car if he is given a large amount of cash up front. No other payment will be accepted. Unable to pay the man, the drifter is given an offer by wealthy local Tex Macadoo (Ric Reitz): spend the night shift as a janitor cleaning up the once successful but now abandoned children’s entertainment facility Willy’s Wonderland. It turns out that the animatronics inside the building are evil and will kill anyone inside at night. However, it turns out that this silent drifter may be the only one who is prepared to really clean up Willy’s Wonderland.
Unfortunately, earlier in the day, local girl Liv Hawthorne (Emily Tosta), attempted to burn the building down, but was stopped by her adopted mother Sheriff Eloise Lund (Beth Grant) and deputy Evan Olson (David Sheftell). Her friends, Chris, Kathy, Aaron, Bob, and Dan (Kai Kadlec, Caylee Cowan, Christian Del Grosso, Terayle Hill, and Jonathan Mercedes) free her and join her in her attempt to burn down the building. Damned kids will ruin everything if you let them.
I wish that I had been present at the pitch meeting for this film. I can only imagine it went something like “Hey, the Five Nights at Freddy’s movie isn’t out yet. What if we rip that off so hard that it will basically be plagiarism, but add in Nicolas Cage?” Then, after taking another large hit of blow, everyone in the room applauded wildly. And rightfully so, because, while this movie is a terrible adaptation of Five Nights at Freddy’s, putting Nicolas Cage onscreen against killer animatronics is just a brilliant idea.
I think if you’ve been reading this blog for long enough, you are aware of my opinion that Nicolas Cage is a national treasure. I wrote that before I realized how terrible of a pun that is, so I will leave it out of penance. In any case, Cage is one of the rare actors who has a tremendous amount of ability, but also a willingness to take absolutely terrible movies on which to squander it. Sometimes, these movies are terrible. Sometimes, these movies are awesome. This movie is somewhere in between, but it is through no fault of Nicolas Cage himself. Every scene in which he is on screen in this film is so much better than it has any right to be, that I can only attribute it to his unnatural screen presence. Even though the movie doesn’t do a particular great job in designing the animatronics, watching Nicolas Cage dispatch them, and brutally at that, is just so enjoyable that you will forgive any of the other flaws. There may be no shot in film I’ve enjoyed more than when an evil possessed ostrich animatronic suddenly realizes that he has absolutely f*cked with the wrong man.
Perhaps the biggest mistake in this film is that it isn’t just Cage versus the characters. Since Cage proves to be the kryptonite to these figures, mostly because he seems to follow some insane self-imposed rules about surviving the night (which are nonetheless apparently effective), there had to be other characters to get the body count up. Enter the teens, who, for the most part, do nothing except be stereotypes and die. While I realize that’s something that a horror movie needs, it’s still kind of a let-down in this film. It also hurts when they try to actually add some backstory to the animatronics. I know that the backstory is a big part of Five Nights at Freddy’s, but it’s all hidden throughout the games and, much like all of the information about the drifter, it would have been better to just leave everything in hints around the building.
Overall, though, if you want to see Nicolas Cage punch an animatronic ostrich to death, and you do, you should watch this. Maybe wait until it’s free, though.
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