A curious remake of the 1971 horror B-movie, in which a born loser who lives in the miserable company of his wretched mother (Jackie Burroughs) and under the baton of a cruel boss (R. Lee Ermey) finds friendship and a means to wage revenge in the company of rats.
Glover is perfectly cast in the titular lead: spineless, seething with resentment and impossibly weird. Most other character actors train for years to fake the kind of bizarre demeanor that the Hellion seems to effortlessly embody; it's hard to imagine somebody else who'd be better suited for this role. Ermey is also excellent as the unbearably vicious manager, the kind of brutal authority figure that he's been typecast as since Kubrick first exploited his natural potential. The supporting cast is just fine, but the performances of these humans are far less interesting than those of their rodent counterparts (live and CGI alike), who are well implemented.
This isn't quite a horror film: there are no outright scares, but the movie is genuinely creepy now and again. More notable is the poignancy of the story; even though this reviewer has a general revulsion for most rodents, the more tender aspects of Willard's relationship with his favorite pet are genuinely moving. It's all quite hokey, to be sure, but very touching nonetheless.
The only serious gripe that could be lodged against this film is that its style is considerably derivative: Glen Morgan's direction bears more than a passing resemblance to that of Tim Burton. Even Shirley Walker's score sounds very much like a Danny Elfman composition. Of course, this film shouldn't be entirely dismissed; it is frequently effective and has a heart. But it's easy to imagine how this could have been a great movie, had it been developed by a filmmaker with a more unique vision.
It's a shame that such a wonderfully weird actor such as Crispin Glover has never achieved the success of many other, lesser actors in Hollywood. He's flat out creepy and funny at the same time. With that said, Glover is the shining star of "Willard," a tale about a man gone mad, using rats to exact revenge on those who've spurned him. The story starts out promising enough, showing Glover taking care of the rat problem his mother says that they have. He befriends one of the … more
First, let me say that I think Crispin Glover was a great Willard. He played the character to the hilt even though he has probably viewed Hitchcock's Pyscho one too many times. There are many similarities between Anthony Perkin's Norman Bates and Crispin's Willard and not only the Oedipal facet either. Mr. Morgan (X-Files) delivers this movie in the way that many X-Files episodes have been filmed. I didn't know about the X-Files connection until after viewing the film but kept thinking... Man, this … more
My wife and I watched this movie a few days ago, hoping it might end up being suitable viewing for our 11 year old daughter who loves creepy movies. Except for one scene where the villian is surfing the web looking at porn sites and one "f" word...the movie meets the standard. But not close enough.Anyway, you probably don't care about that. WILLARD is really good, clean fun. The story is not exactly the most action-packed, plot-heavy you'll find. In many ways, we've got a 45 minute movie stretch … more
As accomplished as it is superfluous, Willard is a stylish horror film with plenty of style and precious little horror. Genre buffs will appreciate it as a visually superior sequel/remake of its popular 1971 predecessor, giving Crispin Glover a title role perfectly suited to his uniquely odd persona, in the same league as Psycho's Norman Bates. This time, Willard's the psychotically lonely son of the original film's now-deceased protagonist; a milquetoast introvert who befriends an army of obedient rats--lethal allies when Willard's pushed to his emotional breaking point by his abusive boss (R. Lee Ermey). In keeping with his memorably macabre episodes of X-Files, writer-director Glen Morgan excels with dreary atmosphere and mischievously morbid humor (including an ill-fated cat named Scully), and Glover gives his best performance since River's Edge. But even the furry villain Ben--an oversized rat with attitude--is more funny than frightful...so really, what's the point? With some justification, Glover's fans will appreciate the open door to a sequel. --Jeff Shannon