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Willard (2003)

  Directed by: Glen Morgan
Written by: Glen Morgan, Gilbert Ralston
Starring: Jackie Burroughs, R. Lee Ermey, Crispin Glover, Laura Elena Harring
Links: Willard on the IMDb, Official site, Buy on Video, Buy on DVD, Buy the Book
Genre: Suspense/Horror/Thriller

This movie gets: 6.00 (1 rating) Ranking: not yet ranked (awaiting 2 ratings)

"Not so scary, but certainly creepy" - a review by pearly

Willard is a remake of an earlier movie-by-the-same-name: Willard (1971). It's about a man, Willard (in this version played by Crispin Glover), who is a loner living with his elderly mother. He works for a company that was formed by his now deceased father, and the new boss is not allowed to sack him, though he does make every day a living hell for Willard.

Feeling depressed over his somewhat mediocre existence, Willard befriends the rats in his basement, naming his favourite Socrates and allowing it to sleep in his bed. The rats, however, figuring that they're onto a good thing, slowly begin to take over the house.

If you're freaked out by rats, then this film will most likely scare the bejeezus outta you. Take, for example, a girl that I work with. Were I watching this with her, I don't think I would have been able to hear the dialogue over all the screaming she would have done. But then, look at me as the counter-example. When I was younger, I owned rats. Sure, I got rid of them when the parents ate their kiddies for breakfast, but up until that point, I had thought they were sweet and lovely little fellas. Nonetheless, the prospect of having a bunch of rats for pets isn't really all that scary to me.

It is, however, when combined with the black acting style of Glover, incredibly creepy (oh, and the huge rat that Willard names Ben is creepily huge). Glover is, it must be said, a pretty wonderful actor, with obviously firm techniques for getting the most out of a role. He is also perfectly suited to this role. He is ably backed by R. Lee Ermey, who is hilarious as his boss, and Laura Elena Harring, who is muted in her portrayal of Cathryn, Willard's only ally.

One thing that was bothering me during the film was that in Willard's house, there was a large portrait of Willard's father, and I recognised the face from the portrait, but couldn't figure out who it was. Having since checked it on the ever-helpful world wide web, I discovered that it was of Bruce Davison, who played Willard in the original movie. Nice touch.

As I found out from the lengthy making-of documentary that was included on the DVD, the film-makers had an enormous amount of trouble getting this film finished, because it tanked at all the test screenings that they had for it. Following the first test, it was heavily edited so that it wouldn't have to be rated R, as the producers feared excluding such large numbers of people who could potentially be in the target audience, especially as the film had not gone over well with the older folk. After another test, the ending was modified (making it different to the original book and movie).

For such a highly messed with film, Willard flows quite well. Not being a huge horror / thriller fan, I am probably not in the target audience for it myself, but I thought it was quite decent. One of the other things discussed in the making-of were other actors who were considered for the lead role before it was given to Glover. And I've gotta say, I thought that Glover made the film watchable, so I cannot even begin to imagine how it would have been if they'd cast one of their earlier favourites: Macaulay Culkin. Bizarre.

pearly gives this movie 6 out of 10.
Review created on Thu 22 Jan 2004

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