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Why Nic Cage Doesn’t Talk In Willy’s Wonderland

Nicolas Cage’s Willy’s Wonderland character the Janitor doesn’t say anything throughout the movie, but his actions speak louder than words.

Nicolas Cage doesn’t speak in Willy’s Wonderland. Cage plays the Janitor, a protagonist who doesn’t utter a word at all during its entire run time — which is actually perfect for the slasher film. Somewhat inspired by the video game Five Nights at Freddy’s, Willy’s Wonderland sees Cage’s character tasked with cleaning the abandoned, titular restaurant where the animatronics come to life and kill whoever is trapped inside. Meanwhile, a group of teenagers led by Liv (Emily Tosta) tries to end the animatronic reign of terror once and for all.

The Janitor in Willy’s Wonderland is a mysterious character who the audience gets to know very little about. In addition to Nic Cage not talking in Willy’s Wonderland, he’s also given no backstory, and viewers can only extrapolate his history. It’s known that he drives a nice car, consumes a lot of energy drinks, is a miracle worker of a cleaner, and is apparently unbothered by the existence of murderous animatronics.

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Related: Willy’s Wonderland: How To Watch Nic Cage’s Five Nights At Freddy’s Clone

It’s an interesting choice for Cage to be mute in Willy’s Wonderland, and writer G.O. Parsons originally penned the script with no dialogue for the character as he imagined a no-budget version where he would play the role. Still, the Nicolas Cage horror movie pulls from two main inspirations, with the first being the archetypal wanderer and the second being the silent video game protagonist. The wanderer travels from town to town getting into trouble and solving the local’s problems before riding off into the sunset again. Notable genre examples include Akira Kurosawa’s Yojimbo or westerns like Sergio Leone’s “Man with No Name” trilogy starring Clint Eastwood.

Why Nic Cage Doesn’t Speak In Willy’s Wonderland

The beginning of Willy’s Wonderland borrows heavily from western aesthetics. The town of Hayesville, Nevada is small, isolated, and run-down. The outdoor scenes are sunbaked and those who run the town are crooked. Like most western heroes, Nic Cage’s character doesn’t say much, but his actions speak loud and clear. He silently fulfills his end of the bargain and cleans the disgusting restaurant, showing his unique sense of honor. If he is given a task he completes it and he’s so focused on cleaning up Willy’s Wonderland that even killer animatronics won’t keep stop him.

The silent hero archetype used for Nicolas Cage’s mute character in Willy’s Wonderland is also clever subversion — made better by the audacious actor in the role. Unlike the classic Western figures, who ride into a town and defeat the bad guys in a dramatic, epic fashion, Nic Cage’s silent character in Willy’s Wonderland isn’t a typical hero — he’s a janitor. While the end result was a mixed success — the movie met with mixed reviews, with many commenting that Nic Cage not talking was a disappointment. Still, it was a bold creative choice nonetheless.

How Willy’s Wonderland Connects To Five Nights At Freddy’s

Nic Cage Willy's Wonderland

The other likely inspiration for Nic Cage’s silent Janitor in Willy’s Wonderland is the silent video game protagonist. Willy’s Wonderland is heavily inspired by the Five Nights at Freddy’s franchise, which also features a silent character facing off against evil animatronics in a restaurant with a horrifying history. For most of the industry’s history, video game protagonists have traditionally been silent (especially role-playing games), even when encountering many speaking NPC (non-player characters). This is so common, in fact, that it’s a recurring gag in the South Park: The Stick of Truth. While some games do utilize dialogue trees, and many more recent games feature recorded dialogue or cut scenes, the philosophy behind most RPGs is that the main hero doesn’t speak, allowing the player to more easily project themselves into that role.

There are lots of little nods to games throughout Willy’s Wonderland too; the opening credits are 8-bit, and Cage’s regularly consumed cans of Punch Soda act like powerups. He always drinks them before fighting and his pinball breaks resemble the mini-games that can be played after dying in Five Nights at Freddy’s. Even without dialogue, Cage’s performance in Willy’s Wonderland is a delight. Cage may not talk, but his blasé behavior is so bizarre audiences can’t help but be sucked in.

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