I hadn’t heard much about Willard before seeing it in Blockbuster® the other day. I vaguely remembered seeing a preview a while back that had something to do with rats, and it starred Crispin Glover.
I remembered Crispin from his role in Charlie’s Angels (2000) as The Creepy Thin Man, and figured I couldn’t go to wrong with a horror movie starring him, so I figured I’d give it a shot. Would Crispin have what it takes to expand on his Creepy Thin Man persona, and take control in the film, or should he have stuck to his supporting roles?
Crispin Glover, who portrays his “Creepy” character so well he’s almost made an art form out of it, keeps up his character from Charlie’s Angels (2000) throughout this film as well. He definitely seems to be a one character actor, but if Vin Diesel can make a career out of it, why can’t Crispin? He’s doing well so far since this is now his third film for this character, but he may want to think about picking a slightly different role in his next film, as the character is starting to wear a bit thin (Vin Diesel should’ve made his character change long, long ago).
The plot starts out well enough, if a bit slow. They do a good job of building up Willard’s miserable life, so when he finally starts doing something about it, the audience can somewhat sympathize with him. It’s a classic theme – underdog taking on the world (see any Steven Seagal movie for other examples), and they should have continued on this path for the rest of the movie. But, the director, screenwriter (or whomever) had other ideas.
They decided to turn the second part of Willard into a man versus beast type movie, and that’s where they went wrong. They wasted a lot of screen time depicting this, and should have just stuck with the original theme that is aparant in the first part of the film. It’s almost as if they changed their minds about the direction the film was going in half way thru.
The only aspect that ties the first part in with the second is Willard’s disapproval of one of the large rats. It’s kind of silly (since he apparently gets along well with the other rats) and stands out as a bit odd, rather then just as a lead in to the second part of the film. Because of this oddity, the viewer does not really get involved with the second part of the film.
Special effects are mainly focused on the rats, as one might guess. They make the rats do some pretty impressive things, and there aren’t any major errors to make the viewer question their suspension of disbelief that the films special effects help create. If only they could’ve done as well with the plot as they did with the special effects, this would have made for a much more interesting and engaging film.
With the inconsistencies in the plot direction, Willard goes from being an interesting horror genre film to a poor excuse for one. It’s unfortunate for Crispin since this film represented his real chance to take his Creepy Thin Man character to new heights. He had what it takes, but unfortunately for him and us, the film doesn’t have enough to back him up.
If you really want to see this film, I suggest renting it with some of the Friday the 13th (1980) films (something in the middle of the series, like Friday the 13th Part III (1982)). That way you may take more of a shine to Willard, as your expectations will already be very low.