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Friday, October 22, 2021

Why Director Kevin Lewis’ “Willy’s Wonderland” Is Unbridled Pandemic Fun

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We’re still waiting for the world to open up and for our daily lives to resemble a shred of the normalcy they used to. As we wait for the Covid tide to turn, stars — who tried to out-method each other in their latest projects — are trying to out-glam each other during awards season.

Perhaps now more than ever, it’s the perfect time to watch something that’s just fun and silly — and maybe a little gruesome and terrifying.

Enter “Willy’s Wonderland”, now available digitally. The one-hour and 28-minute horror/comedy helps you let down your guard after it’s been locked into place for a year, while your eyes are glued to a speechless Nicholas Cage — he literally doesn’t say anything the entire film — as he battles demonically possessed animatronics.

“Willy’s Wonderland” director Kevin Lewis (”The Drop”, “Downward Angel”) shot the movie in 20 days with a two to three shot max for filming each scene. He was pleased to have Cage star in the film who told Lewis, “I like to get it in one.”

“He loved the script… man, we didn’t have one creative disagreement on this movie,” Lewis said of Cage. “We got along so well, and he was channeling Charles Bronson from “Once Upon a Time in the West”, that’s one of his favorite movies.

“Nick just loved the character. He loved the idea of not talking. … It’s a challenging role. You can hide behind dialogue sometimes and there’s [nowhere] to hide, it’s all action and mannerisms and conveying with looks and feels.”

As silly as the premise reads and the movie may look, the truth is that from a cast and crew’s standpoint, they approached making “Willy’s Wonderland” like any other movie. Lewis doesn’t believe working in the genre as a director puts a chip on his shoulder despite the other ones often receiving more praise.

“I feel like the movie is very self-aware, it knows what it is,” Lewis said. “And I’m telling you, the cast and crew, we had a ball making it. People would show up with smiles on their faces in the morning and leave in the evening with them. So, we got along great and we knew what we were doing.

“No, I don’t have a chip on my shoulder. There’s a lot of fans that love this movie, that’s who I was making it for. … I made it for people who love pop culture. There’s more of us than the snobby critics I feel. I think we’re at a time where with the political unrest and what’s been going on with the pandemic, I think people just need to sit back and relax and have fun a little bit.”

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