Willard (1971) Review

Spoiler-free so you can read before you watch

Willard (1971) Review

Horrorific content by adrian on September 19th, 2020 | Movie Review | Cult Classic, Psychological, Campy, Creature, Revenge

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It's about a guy who gets pushed around by just about everyone, but finds a way to push back with the help of his army of pet rats.

Willard was directed by Daniel Mann and stars Bruce Davison (from Await The Dawn and The Sonata), Ernest Borgnine (from Deadly Blessing and The Devil's Rain) and Sondra Locke (from The Shadow Of Chikara and A Reflection Of Fear).

This is Willard and his friend Ben. Ben will do anything for Willard.

Willard Review

Willard is a psychological horror about a guy with a domineering mom, family and boss who gets pushed to his breaking point. But when all felt lost he stumbled on a surreal realization, his army of hundreds of pet rats will do anything he commands of them, even kill. Yeah, he has hundreds of pet rats, how he collects them is pretty bizarre so I'm going to just gloss past this quirky detail. So, Willard not only gets bullied by everyone, but his boss stole his dad's company from him and schemes to steal his home out from under him the day after his mom dies. Like most people who are relentlessly bullied he pushes down his anger and frustration, until one day when he freaks out.

This movie is a lot like Carrie because like bullied Carrie, Willard also has a mental break and goes way too far with his revenge. Had he tried standing up to people sooner things would have gone a tad smoother, but he had to hold out until shit went nuclear.  

So, Willard's dad built a company with a business partner who later stole it from him, the grief of which killed his dad and Willard got stuck with a menial role in the company. His mom's grief of losing his dad eventually killed her. Then to slap a cherry on top Willard's boss, his dad's old business partner, tries to take his family home just to tear down for cash. One day while trying to deal with all this Willard stumbles on a rat nest in his backyard and eventually brings them inside as his pets (there's more to this, but trust me it's bizarro). They become his best friends and he slowly realizes they'll do anything for him, except for one named Ben (the star of the sequel).  

Willard is more of a tragic psychological horror than a movie about killer rats. There's never really any fear, suspense or dread built-up through his experiences. It's more just kinda sad. You do feel a sense of justice when he blows up and gets even, but then things get sad and tragic again.  

So basically, sitting down for Willard was not at all what I expected and I'm not quite sure it's something I'd want to watch again. But, it was remade in 2003 so I'll watch that just to see how it compares.

Worth Watching?

If you like tragic horrors then yeah. I do think it was a quality movie and did pack a punch, it just wasn't the kind of punch I'd personally want to experience again.  

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