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Willard

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PG
1971

Willard is an American horror film that was released in 1971, directed by Daniel Mann and starring Bruce Davison, Elsa Lanchester, and Sondra Locke. This iconic movie quickly became a cult classic due to its unique plot, focused performances, and a captivating fusion of horror, drama, and psychological turmoil.

The plot revolves around the socially awkward young man, Willard Stiles, played by the talented Bruce Davison. Willard lives a life marred by sadism and isolation, as he copes with the death of his father and the overwhelming control of his tyrant mother Henrietta Stiles, who is wonderfully represented by renowned actress Elsa Lanchester. The movie sheds light on the parental dynamics and familial relationships, escalating the intensity of human drama.

Willard is entangled in a mundane and monotonous routine where he faces constant mockery and humiliation at his job. His boss, Al Martin, portrayed by Ernest Borgnine, is a sardonic man who bullies and belittles Willard, further contributing to his grievances. This gradual buildup of disappointment and frustration casts a psychological shadow, providing a thrilling setup for dark occurrences that are yet to unfold.

On the domestic front, his life appears to be a ghost house of loneliness, exacerbated by the departure of his sole companion, a housemaid played by Elsa Lanchester. In this milieu of desolation and solitude, Willard finds an unlikely friend in a rat, which he affectionately names as Socrates. Alongside, Willard finds himself increasingly drawn towards another rat, which he names Ben. The rats become symbolic figures, representing companionship, rebellion, and paradoxically, a sinister darkness brewing underneath.

What sets the film aside is the surreal relationship between Willard and his rat companions. This unique bond showcases the desperation for company and the fear of abandonment, which eventually leads Willard down a path of macabre situations. The unconventional friendship challenges societal norms and pushes the limits of a perceived reality, evoking elements of horror and suspense.

The character of Joan, excellently played by Sondra Locke, introduces a new dynamic to the plot. Joan, a temporary worker, makes an attempt to establish a warm relationship with Willard, despite his eccentricities. This blossoming friendship carries the potential to reshape Willard's grim world-view, adding a splash of hope and romance to the dark undertones of the film.

The movie expertly uses the grim and somber mise-en-scene to intensify the atmospheric horror, while the subtle symbolism related to the rats sets a chilling tone. The exceptional performances from the cast members uplift the film's ambience, with Bruce Davison showcasing an enthralling portrayal of emotional and psychological complexity.

These complexities triggered by loneliness and humiliation are presented with sophistication and a thorough understanding of human psychology. The interplay of these emotions results in unusual and often nightmarish events. This cocktail of horror, suspense, and psychological drama ensured that the film created an enduring impact on the horror genre and continues to captivate audiences to this date.

The music by Alex North adds to the unsettling atmosphere, further intensifying the viewers' experience. A significant element of the film is its use of animal characters in the narrative. The inclusion of Socrates and Ben as central figures provides a novel twist to the tradition of horror narratives, contributing to the film's distinctive personality.

In conclusion, Willard, with its unique blend of horror, psychological drama, suspense, and unexpected friendships, offers an enriching cinematic experience that stays etched in the memory. The film's exploration of the human psyche against the backdrop of horrifying circumstances redefined the genre's boundaries back in 1971 and continues to be praised in contemporary times. If you're a fan of classic horror and psychological thrillers, this film surely deserves a spot on your watch-list.

Willard is a Horror, Science Fiction movie released in 1971. It has a runtime of 95 min. Critics and viewers have rated it moderate reviews, with an IMDb score of 6.2. It also holds a MetaScore of 49.

How to Watch Willard

Where can I stream Willard movie online? Willard is available to watch and stream, buy on demand, download at Amazon Prime, Peacock, Peacock Premium, Plex, Tubi TV, The Roku Channel, Vudu Free, Kanopy, Apple TV, Amazon, Google Play, Vudu. Some platforms allow you to rent Willard for a limited time or purchase the movie for downloading.

6.2/10
49/100
Director
Daniel Mann
Stars
Bruce Davison, , Elsa Lanchester, , Ernest Borgnine
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