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Overall Rating
3.96

Awesome: 34.69%
Worth A Look44.9%
Average: 10.2%
Pretty Bad: 2.04%
Total Crap: 8.16%

3 reviews, 31 user ratings



Willard (2003)
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by EricDSnider

"Post-modern creepiness, well-assembled and chock full of ratty goodness."
4 stars

The first line of dialogue in "Willard" is spoken by the title character's gnarled old mother, shouting from her bedroom: "Willard, there are rats in the basement!"

And indeed there are. The Stiles family's old Brooklyn manor is home to a few rats, but under the care of Willard, their numbers grow to plague proportions. And Willard, through means not explained in the film -- which is fine, considering no explanation would have made sense anyway -- can command them.

But I am getting ahead of myself. Willard Stiles (Crispin Glover) is a nerdy, unsettlingly soft-spoken man in his 30s, an only child who lives with and cares for his aged, bedridden mother (Jackie Burroughs), a withered harpie who arbitrarily decides, one day, to start calling Willard by the more "manly" name of Clark.

Willard works, lackadaisically, in the office of Martin Stiles Manufacturing, a business begun by his late father and now run by the storming, angry Frank Martin (R. Lee Ermey). Martin won't fire Willard out of loyalty to his old business partner, but he makes his life miserable. He will pay....

But I have gotten ahead of myself again. Crispin Glover, who himself is as creepy as a bag of rats, is the perfect choice to play the lead in this film (a remake of the 1971 Bruce Davison thriller). He has beady eyes and a long, rodentine nose. His voice is a whispery whine. He is eerily adept at being more offputting than likable, but still slightly likable.

The writer and director is Glen Morgan, who wrote many of the greatest "X-Files" episodes and is making his directorial debut here. Just like many of the best adventures of Mulder and Scully, "Willard" mixes horror elements with humor, self-awareness and irony. It does not strike me that he intends "Willard" to scare anyone -- give us the willies, maybe, with many scenes of way too many rats swarming around, but never to terrify, shock or disturb us.

Surely Morgan finds humor in Willard himself, a bad person, bad son and bad employee who does bad things and eventually reaps the whirlwind. The manner in which Willard attaches himself to Socrates, the rat he adopts as his pet, is perversely amusing, and his love-hate relationship with Ben, the largest rat in the pack, is flat-out hilarious.

Morgan, who named a character "Hitchcock" in his screenplay for "Final Destination" (2000), demonstrates his devotion to the master of suspense even further here. Willard is clearly a Norman Bates figure, with his domineering mother and forbidding house furnished with stuffed birds. And speaking of our friends in the skies, "The Birds" is referenced a bit in the final act of the film, as doors are nailed shut to prevent rats from invading the house.

Inside jokes abound -- watch for Bruce Davison in a cameo of sorts -- and the film successfully achieves its twin goals of being entertaining and creepy. It expands on our pop-cultural knowledge of the original film, tweaks the formula a bit, and comes off as a goofy excursion into darkness and mania.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=7228&reviewer=247
originally posted: 07/08/03 02:24:10
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User Comments

5/11/09 art i say"NUT"S" to this film about"RAT"S"! 1 stars
5/29/08 PAUL SHORTT CREEPY STORY OF A MAN AND HIS RODENTS 1 stars
5/16/07 Stanley Thai This fell below my expectations. I really doesn't deliver but it's decent. 3 stars
3/30/07 fools♫gold The only problems it had were in the dialogue, and the superb DVD got rid of that! 5 stars
2/11/07 action movie fan bad remake-looses all the power of the first 1 stars
11/28/06 Charles Tatum Dark and lovely, an improvement on the original 5 stars
8/16/05 ES R. Lee Ermey is the hard ass of hard-asses and I refuse to believe he can make a bad movie 3 stars
3/03/05 Laurie Le Blanc I thought Crispin Glover was excellent! 4 stars
8/27/04 American Slasher Goddess Besides Glover's performance, it just doesn't do enough to improve upon the original. 3 stars
6/09/04 The More You Know Crispin's cuckoo, rats do voodoo. Worth it if you can stand these varmints! 4 stars
4/04/04 Emily Fantastic! A wonderfully dark film with excellent acting. 5 stars
2/15/04 homer creepy, but lots of tantalizing fun, crispin glover is one hell of a frerak 4 stars
1/03/04 A F mmmkay 3 stars
10/21/03 Curious George bah not my kind of movie 2 stars
10/18/03 Samuel Justus A great movie... but also sad in parts! Crispin Glover portrays a great 'Willard' 5 stars
10/08/03 Erik Van Sant Crispin Glover was born to play this character. A great mixture of horror and comedy. 4 stars
8/07/03 Joe great 5 stars
7/24/03 Maggie It sucked i was getting ready to leave tahts how bad it sucked 5 stars
6/03/03 Hugo A terrific movie with a terrific cast 5 stars
4/16/03 The Velcro Warlock WHAT were they thinking?? Is boss from hell the hero? Or is it mommie dearest? 1 stars
3/28/03 Uncle Salty Two words: Super-Rad. (Maybe technically that's one) 5 stars
3/27/03 elizaveta pretty fun, kinda creepy - glover sure knows how to tremble 4 stars
3/27/03 Duh Jon. Already is a remake of the 1971 cult classic 4 stars
3/26/03 Jon "Thumb the Toad" Lyrik A damn good future cult classic. 4 stars
3/20/03 bob leather jacket It creeped me out...I kinda liked it 4 stars
3/17/03 Andrew Carden Good Special Effects, and Performances; Otherwise Contrived and Stupid. 3 stars
3/15/03 Vicious Not just a horror film but a perfectly played tragedy. 5 stars
3/15/03 syrius great if you understand what it symbolizes 4 stars
3/15/03 Film Dude Crispin Glover ownz j00. 4 stars
3/13/03 Chad Smith I frickin' LOVED it. If you consider yourself a Crispin Glover fan, DON'T MISS IT! 5 stars
3/12/03 bob mckenzie creepy goodness! 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  14-Mar-2003 (PG-13)

UK
  N/A

Australia
  21-Aug-2003


Directed by
  Glen Morgan

Written by
  Glen Morgan

Cast
  Crispin Glover
  Laura Harring
  Jackie Burroughs
  R. Lee Ermey
  Kim McKamy
  David Parker



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