Willard (2003) is an even darker look into a troubled mind. The original was technically a horror movie, but it didn’t feel like one until the final act. The remake is so gothic throughout, you’d swear it was directed by Tim Burton. Burton had nothing to do with it, but his future collaborator Crispin Glover was practically born to play Willard. He’s already a rat-like weirdo just like original actor Bruce Davison. Davison has a portrait cameo as Willard’s late father.
Willard’s house is creepier and Jackie Burroughs is more decrepit as his bedridden mother. R. Lee Ermey is the perfect master of insults to continually belittle Willard. Which is why Laura Harring feels nicer as the only woman who shows him kindness. Willard’s friendship with the rats happens upfront when he chooses not to kill them. His love for Socrates is made as explicitly clear as his growing destain for Ben. Ben is one giant rat, but it’s hard to recreate the sinister look that the original had.
Willard has so many rats that CGI was a necessary evil. The story is almost exactly the same, but the sequel Ben couldn’t be ignored. Though it was bizarre to use the beautiful Michael Jackson song when Ben and his rats are hunting a cat. Can’t say I was crazy about Glover’s cover of the song. Willard’s revenge is bloodier, but the movie remains PG-13. Ben’s revenge is bigger, but the conventional Hollywood ending felt wrong. Willard (2003) makes up for it with a truly unhinged obsession with rats.
Remake of: Willard (1971)