Willard (2003)
Main cast: Crispin Glover (Willard Stiles), David Parker (Detective Boxer), Jackie Burroughs (Henrietta Stiles), Kristen Cloke (Dr Bludworth), R Lee Ermey (Frank Martin), and Laura Harring (Cathryn)
Director: Glen Morgan


This movie is so amusing! Glen Morgan and his partner James Wong have meticulously peppered this show with so many injokes that X-Philes will either laugh or cringe when a cat named Scully becomes rat food in this remake of the cult classic Willard. Crispin Glover does a truly great if sometimes over the top portrayal of the mentally unstable Momma's boy Willard Stiles.

Willard Stiles lead a strange life. His momma Henrietta (played by Jackie Borroughs - hey, it's Aunt Hetty King from The Road To Avonlea!) is equally insane as the woman who insists on suffocating her son way past the healthy and sane point. (When Willard spends too long a time in the bathroom, she insists on coming in to see what he is doing.) But he has a secret: his house is filled with rats and he is the Napoleon to them. Seriously. His second-in-command is his favorite white rat Socrates, but the huge rat Big Ben is starting to scheme to usurp Socrates and Willard. If this rodent power play isn't a headache enough, Willard is having problems with his boss Frank. Frank doesn't like socially maladjusted, stuttering, tardy, unproductive workers that he cannot fire due to some technical mumbo-jumbo of a contract he signed with Willard's father - the nerve!

Of course, Willard soon starts marshaling his rodent army to cause some mayhem, but really, Ben is fast becoming a pain to his behind. Oh dear. What can he do, what can he do? Buy a cat? Oops, RIP Scully - at least that one is a gift.

Willard is actually a movie that defies conventional labeling. It's not a horror movie, even if the original one is. It's more of a playful remake of the original. No, remake is not the correct word, because what Mr Morgan and Mr Wong did were to use the big scary house from Psycho and give Willard a Norman Bates vibe. But at the same time Crispin Glover plays Willard far differently from Bruce Davidson in the original: Glover could have played Willard the way he played the awkward loser in Back To The Future, but instead, his campy and hilarious portrayal pushes this movie closer towards the dark comedy territory. There is very little scene of gore, the computerized rats are not scary (unless you have a fear of rats), and most of the time, very little is happening except of Willard working up a fevered case of nerves.

But I am never bored. I really enjoy watching Mr Glover camp it up. Maybe that's the problem of this movie: it takes the original premise but mutates it into some bizarre character study of a movie. Fans of the original and fans of horror may be disappointed by this. But me, I have a great time. Campy, a hoot to watch, and filled with really cute moments of dark humor (Big Ben is really evil), this Willard deserves to be a cult classic on its own merit.

Rating: 90


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