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Before you let the advertising fool you, understand that "Willard" isn't
exactly your normal horror flick. I know that the marketing people tried
put all the scary bits into the trailer and such, but I urge you to
reconsider your views on it.
The movie itself is more of an in-depth character study. It follows the events that lead one man into the pits of insanity, taking you along for the ride. Forget "Psycho," (Which was an awesome film in its own right) though the movie does have Norman Bates/Hitchcock elements. We're taken from lonely, shy, and sad, to hollering, glaring, weeping, and finally, silent. Only one man was tailor-made for this role...and that man was Mr. Glover.
Through every blink, every wide-eyed stare, the audience is drawn into the character. We believe in his connection with the rats, and marvel at his ability to train them. And when he gets even with Mr. Martin, we celebrate.
And I loved the undoubted sexual frustration that Willard is feeling. It's more apparent in one of the deleted scenes on the DVD. But the writer didn't succumb to this frustration; he let it build.
All of this combines to form one of the greatest character movies I have ever seen, and probably will ever see. I must say that this is one movie I will not soon forget...
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Crispin Glover gives a splendidly dark and evil performance in "Willard," a
performance that creeps you out more than any idea of killer rats ever will.
The movie feels like a Tim Burton Lite, and a few times throughout the film
I came close to imagining how Tim Burton would have directed the film. He
probably would have gotten Johnny Depp for Willard, though, and I'm not sure
if Depp would have been able to pull it off as well as Glover, who has
always been a very strange character, even back when he played the shy and
quirky George McFly in "Back to the Future."
If Crispin was odd in "Back to the Future," then he's part of the Manson family here. It seems to be an almost tailor-made role, one fit just for him. His character, Willard, is a mix between Anthony Perkins' Norman Bates and Adam Sandler's Barry Anderson from "Punch-Drunk Love." I half-expected to see Willard's mother jump out in front of the screen at some point in the film, only for "her" to be Willard.
Anyone familiar with the seventies should remember "Willard," and perhaps even its sequel, "Ben." I didn't know quite what to expect walking into "Willard," as I had never seen the original. It is a very dark and creepy movie, perhaps not for everyone, but I enjoyed it. It's quirky. It's creepy. It's dark and brooding. And it has a sly sinister side to it. When Willard retreats to his basement every night to train a gang of rats to carry out his evil deeds it's not really scary but rather strange in execution. Given another director this could have been another summer horror flick like "Jeepers Creepers 2," but it turned out to be a bit more than a scary movie - it's more of a freaky movie.
Willard (Glover) is a grown man who lives in a large, creepy home with his bitter old mother. He cares for her and goes to work to help support her, where he works for "Mr. Martin," a gruff old guy who claims that the reason he drives a Mercedes is for the company's benefit. He relentlessly picks on Willard, who bites his tongue in return and counts to ten.
Extremely lonely, Willard retreats into his mother's basement one night to try to get rid of some rodent infestation. Once there, he finds that he has caught a smart little white rat in one of his traps, which he frees from the sticky paper and names Socrates (because the rat is smart). Soon he finds that Socrates can understand him, as do all the other rats. He also realizes that the rats will do whatever he wants, whether it be attacking Martin's Mercedes or eating Martin to death. And so he uses them at his psychopathic will; that is, except for a very large rat named Ben, who is about the size of a small dog. Ben is smart, and tries to win Willard's attention, but Willard ignores Ben (one can understand why), and pays all the attention to Socrates. Ben doesn't like this, and so he starts commanding the gang of rats against Willard. The film ends in a strange showdown between rats and man, to say the least.
I used to have a little white rat just like Socrates, which I named Socrates, and I used to have another big, black rat, which I named Ben. (Yes, I named them after the rats from the old film.) Rats are kind little creatures but you get the idea that they are a very smart species, always scheming. Watching the "real" Ben from "Willard" is funny, because as he sits there scheming it is in all truth very honest - rats are smarter than they seem.
Willard seems to have a psychic connection between the rats. It's like the story of the dog that followed his master all the way across the Atlantic ocean, running up to him in the middle of a WWII battlefield. Some experts say that animals have boundaries with their masters that they can somehow feel, relate to or are attached to psychically. By charming Socrates, it seems that Willard opened up a sort of psychic connection between the rats, and the way he carries them around on his shoulder, and says to Socrates, "You are the only friend I've ever had," is strangely disturbing.
I wasn't sure what to expect going into "Willard," and I'm still not sure if the film used up all the potential it had. They could have spent more time focusing on Willard's development into a psychopath, more time on what the rats did, more time showing the audience that Willard is the bad guy. It seems that they go wishy-washy - are we supposed to root for Willard or not? I don't really know, but I enjoyed the movie. It's not an incredible achievment in any regard, and I left feeling a little empty but I'm glad I saw it.
3.5/5 stars -
Willard Stiles (Crispin Glover) is a lonely and deranged man living in an
old mansion with his sick mother Henrietta Stiles (Jackie Burroughs). His
father committed suicide after losing his own company to his former partner
and friend Frank Martin (R. Lee Ermey). Due to a clause in the selling
contract, Willard can not be fired from his job while his mother is alive.
However, Frank abuses of Willard, humiliating and spending a horrible
treatment with him in front of his colleagues. The basement of Willard's
house is infested of rats and mice, and Willard capture a beautiful white
mouse in a trap. Willard rescues the mouse, calls him Socrates and becomes
his friend. Socrates is a leader and the other rats obey him, except the
huge Ben. The animals are trained by Willard, who uses them for his revenge.
This weird tale about loneliness, friendship, greed and revenge has the same
style of most Tim Burton's movies. It is a black comedy very dark, quite
gothic, having weird characters, but great performances and good effects.
Although dealing with a nasty theme (rats and mice), it is not a disgusting
film. It is not recommended for all audiences, but I liked it a lot. My vote
Title (Brazil): `A Vingança de Willard' (`The Revenge of Willard')
Glen Morgan's Willard isn't your ordinary mainstream remake! Unlike the bombastic and computerized money-making films like oh, I don't know Texas Chainsaw Massacre, 13 Ghosts and Dawn of the Dead who're merely loud updates of classic horrific tales. Willard is a modest and respectful production that lays the stress on atmosphere and scenery instead of gory effects and good-looking young flesh. Willard is the tale of an extremely introvert middle-aged man (lives with his needy mother, no girlfriend, stuck in a hopeless job) who discover his ability to control and command little rodents rats in particular. By communicating with these rats, he finally discovers what friendship feels like and it also gives him the opportunity to satisfy his deepest feelings of anger and vengeance towards his boss Frank Martin. But the mob of rats slowly turns against Willard as he doesn't treat them alike. Thanks to the depressing scenery (Willard's old house, the morbid factory) and the under-exposure at times, Willard often looks like a 40's chiller! There's a good and constant variation of tension and sadistic humor, with the cat-chase as the absolute highlight to state this. Crispin Glover the man with the most incomprehensible cult following in the film industry is brilliantly cast as Willard. His goofy yet spooky charisma fits his character really well. R. Lee Ermey receives the change to be his old boisterous self again as the dreary factory-owner who's out to destroy Willard life. To conclude the cast, Laura Harding is very charming as the understanding and helpful Cathryn. This film may not show as many bloodshed and eccentric slaughtering as the nowadays public demands, but it surely made an impression on me. Willard is a very atmospheric and often frightening horror storytelling with some adorable fairy-tale aspects and playfully imaginative aspects. Highly recommended. I saw this film at a during a festival-night after a series of gory slashers. The over-enthusiast public didn't appreciate it that much but I trust in the fact that Willard will build up a solid cult reputation.
Maybe self-parody isn't such a bad word in the case of Willard. While I will state that the film was funny and interesting to watch, it wasn't nearly as twisted or as scary as it could have been. But then again, it's so damn tough to scare the jaded masses of critics and movie goers anyway. However, I did find this film wildly entertaining, especially the likes of Glenn Morgan and James Wong helming the project, two guys who helped put together The X-Files and Space: Above and Beyond (a truly underrated show). The only downside to this film was the editing. It was sometimes dull, and often did little to help the plot move in a smooth fashion. However, the random close-ups of the rat/wombat "Big Ben" were hillarious, making it look like the rat would actually start talking. Also, I give a big kudos to R. Lee Ermey, who went back to his old Full Metal Jacket days, making him a scary and evil bad guy to focus on. Oh, and Crispin Glover plays the loser role perfectly.
OK, it took me a long time, but better late than never. So, the main reason why most people didn't liked it, because it was not a horror film. So what? If you can understand that it's not a horror, then why don't you watch it wherever you think it is? "Willard" is an absolutely beautiful movie. I couldn't believe how atmospheric it was. I didn't expected much from the movie, esp. I was worried about CGI rats, but I wanted to see it for Crispin Glover. And the moment I've heard the music score I knew it is going to be something special. I don't think that it is weird movie at any point. It was beautiful movie. This is probably the word that describes it best. It may sound stupid, but I know that I have a good taste in movies. *coughs* That's why I can say that "Willard" is definitely one of the best recent movies and I can tell that it is not just personal opinion, it is one of the best movies. If it is a bad movie, then what do you consider a good movie?.. OK, it worked just because of Crispin Glover. He glued everything together. Without him it would be stupid and pointless. But he makes the concept believable. It should of get a few Oscar nomination, that's for sure, but no one surprised that it didn't. The music score was really outstanding, gave it a real feeling, kudos to composer. Definitely deserves an Oscar nom. The production design as well. Superb atmosphere. CGI was great! It was a real surprise and delight to see that CGI is great. Glen Morgan, he did such a great job. He had some small mistakes, but he is way much more superior than today's directors. It still hard to say about his style, because there is a lot of Hitchcock in him, but he did a great job in "Willard" without doubt. Kudos! Now, the acting. What can I say about Crispin Glover? He is a genius! An absolutely amazing genius! The Academy is just an ass, but it is not surprise. But he definitely deserves an Oscar, he owns it, it is THE best performance of 2003! He scared me to death, in good way. He has so much emotion in him, I couldn't believe how amazing his performance is! I have no right words to give him a credit. I'm just speechless R. Lee Ermey, I like him a lot. He is one of my favorites too. Such a fun man. Kudos to you, R. Lee Ermey! Jackie Barroughs creepy! In a good way, she did a great job, she really is! I mean, without her scary mother the movie wouldn't be the same! Laura Harring, I like her too, she was great in "Mullholand Drive". I know some people say that she was completely wasted and they right, but she still was a nice touch. I mean, it is always nice to look at her, she has that good quality about her. I don't know, but maybe she regret that she wasted her time here, but if I could I would say to her, that I think it's better to be a part of this labor of love, than some crappy Hollywood s***. If you watch deleted scenes on DVD it doesn't seem like she is wasted at all. And, the end. I like the new ending better, because it gives you to think about more, the old ending, IMHO, is quite pointless. So, to end the review. It is a masterpiece on its own right. It is an absolutely beautiful movie. So sensitive, so atmospheric, so emotional. My eyes were just glued to the screen. I know that Glen Morgan feels bad about the movie's failure, but he shouldn't, it was not his fault! It IS a great movie! When it ended I hoped that the teenagers will love it (I'm a teenager, myself), because the studio target at them, I hoped that this beautiful movie will be an exception, when they gonna love it for not being a usual stupid movies. But when they didn't, I just realized that some people will always be stupid no matter what. Well, their loss. It is one of my favorites. It is a deep, emotional movie. I'm sure Crispin Glover would be happy to know that "Willard" makes people think. It really is, esp. about human condition. I thought a lot about this movie and I'm not the only one. I recommend it highly. Definitely 10/10.
One of the least successful movies of the year, when it should have been one
of the most, is Willard, the remake of the Bruce Davison version. It has
everything going for it, and it was really the dismal marketing campaign
that brought it to its early demise. If more people had given it a chance,
then hopefully it would have been more successful and more people would have
been able to see this masterwork. That's what Willard is, it's a
masterpiece, at least of the movies of the last ten years or so. No movies
have been up to par in so many different levels.
Crispin Glover puts in the best acting performance of the year, and possibly one of the best of all time is the title character. He has a dead-end job at his late father's business, now run by his father's partner, Frank Martin (R. Lee Ermey), who just keeps him on until Willard's mother (Jackie Burroughs) dies. When his mother makes him go look for rats, Willard finds one, keeps it, and names it Socrates. He discovers more, and they do whatever Socrates tells him. However, a huge rat named Ben wants control, and fights with Socrates for power, while Willard uses the rats for his own sociopathic will.
As I said earlier, Willard has everything going for it. I'll go one at a time. The directing, by X-Files alum Glen Morgan (also written by him and co-produced with James Wong) was perfect. He has an obvious style (and probably studied Hitchcock in college), and creates a sense of realism in this implausible movie. Also, Morgan's screenplay has some of the best humor to come out of a movie this year, especially from Ermey and Burroughs. I won't spoil them, although they're still funny on repeat viewings.
The acting, especially by Glover, who isn't a forerunner in big Hollywood names, is spectacular. Glover portrayed a young, aimless man so well. No one can scream like this man can. He's not afraid to let go and let his emotions run him over. He must have some deep repressed memories. Ermey is outstanding, but, then again, when is he not? He just plays an evil character, and that's what he's great at. Laura Elena Harring (Mulholland Drive) does what she can with her very small role. I noticed she tried to repress an accent, but I couldn't tell from where. Sounded Spanish, but I digress. Burroughs is great, although more of her (not really looking at her, though she's hideous) would have been great.
Morgan takes what could have been disastrous and turned it around to become a truly creepy film. Willard shows the side of every person who wants to do something evil, but can't find the will to do it. That's where Willard succeeds, you end up rooting for someone you normally wouldn't because he's doing something that you desperately want to do.
Willard is a modern masterpiece, one that will thankfully find a huge audience on DVD.
My rating: 8/10
Rated PG-13 for terror/violence, some sexual content and language.
The movie centers about Crispin Glover a quirky and lone man about
thirty years old . He lives with her ill mother and amount of mouses
into his home . He has got as enemy to the office chief . Rats will
help him to revenge .
The film will have to flee whom don't like the rats because they appear in everyone shots , close-ups , foreground and background of the flick . There are thousand rats and they have been made by animatronics and computer generator specials effects(FX).
Acting by Crispin Glover is excellent , interpreting to Willard as a twisted mind is fantastic , likeness to Norman Bates/Anthony Perkins of Psychosis . R. Lee Ermey as the evil and villain chief is perfect such as his acting in ¨Full metal jacket¨ , Laura Elena Harring (Mulholland drive) is cute .
Direction by Glen Morgan is nicely made , cinematography by Robert MacLachlan is first-rate and Shirley Walker's musical score is gorgeous.
It's a remake to another 1971 film featured by Bruce Davison who only appears in photography as Willard's father into this 2003 film.
Rating 6/10 , average .
Mr. Culkin should have taken the role that this movie offered him. For an actor who is trying to prove something to the industry in Hollywood, this movie is an excellent example. Crispin Glover has had a reputation in the film industry as a strong, yet weird actor. Many of the roles that he has received makes Crispin look crazy if not odd. Here, Crispin shows his serious and comic side. The movie alone holds up as a gritty thriller. A horror movie none-the-less, Willard is an interesting film that we don't see too often. A well made movie with decent production value, the cast adds to its greatness. Much like River's Edge, the audience is left wondering where Crispin Glover came from. No longer a young actor, Crispin has worked his way up to become a veteran performer and a good actor.
People who hated this movie went to see it with the preconceived notion
rats would be doing a lot bloodier leg work for Willard. What they got was
movie wherein Crispin Glover kisses his best rattie friend and slowly
Willard has flaws, and plenty of them, but they rarely detract from what is, at heart, a psychological parable and subtle love story. Crispin Glover's performance is one of his most genuinely human and believable, evoking ugly emotions rarely seen in Hollywood, while still retaining a manic kind of dignity.
You can hardly fault New Line for marketing Willard as a horror flick, since that is what would inevitably sell better. But Willard is really more of a movie for people who genuinely like rats, not those who fear them. It's a movie for people who find greater horror in failure and abuse and solitude than buckets of blood and gore. Willard is the kind of movie that aims to make you uncomfortable, but not truly horrified. It uses few of the common elements of the horror movie, including graphic violence, deformity, fear of the unknown, and sudden, unexpected movement or loud noises to propel you from your seat. It is slow moving and subtle, and often uses crude humor to detract from the more creepy moments. It shows itself as a juvenile in those moments, a child who has put on his father's suit and is masquerading as a serious adult. It is much like the character of Willard, in that sense, and the coincidence is almost admirable.
The movie is unquestionably more subtle, evocative, and well-crafted than its predecessor; it is also more faithful to the original novel, Ratman's Notebooks, than the version starring Bruce Davison. It's a dubious honor, some might say.
Willard deserves no prizes, but it is well-made to be what it is... not a horror movie, nor a drama, nor a thriller. It's an intimate little movie about a boy and his rat, and it is all the better for it.
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