- 1 hr 35 min
Willard is a psychological horror movie from 1971, directed by Daniel Mann and written by Gilbert Ralston, based on the novel Ratman's Notebook by Stephen Gilbert. The movie follows the story of a socially awkward young man named Willard Stiles (Bruce Davison), who lives with his overbearing mother Henrietta (Elsa Lanchester) in their old mansion. He is a loner who has a strange affinity for rats, which he keeps as pets and trains to do his bidding.
Willard is constantly belittled and bossed around by his mother and his boss, Al Martin (Ernest Borgnine), who runs the company his father founded. Due to his meek nature, he is unable to stand up for himself, and as a result, becomes more and more withdrawn from the outside world, finding solace in his obsession with rats.
One day, Willard discovers a large colony of rats living in his basement and begins to train them to follow his commands. He discovers that he can use the rats to his advantage, and soon they become his only friends. Through the rats, Willard gains confidence and begins to stand up for himself at work, much to Al Martin's surprise and anger.
Willard's newfound confidence is short-lived, however, as his mother dies suddenly, leaving him alone in the mansion with only his rats for company. Willard becomes increasingly unstable, both mentally and emotionally, and his behavior becomes more erratic and dangerous as he turns to his rats for comfort.
Things come to a head when Al Martin discovers Willard's secret, and threatens to destroy his beloved rats. Willard, desperate to protect his only friends, takes matters into his own hands, unleashing his trained army of rats on his enemies.
The movie is a dark and disturbing tale of isolation, obsession, and revenge, and Bruce Davison delivers a standout performance as the tortured and lonely Willard. Elsa Lanchester is also excellent as Willard's domineering mother, whose death sends him spiraling out of control.
The cinematography is also noteworthy, with the use of close-ups and heavy shadows adding to the film's claustrophobic and unsettling atmosphere. The rats themselves are also a highlight, with the filmmakers using real trained rats to create an eerie and believable sense of menace.
Overall, Willard is a classic horror movie that continues to terrify audiences today, more than 40 years after its release. It is a must-see for fans of psychological horror, with its themes of social isolation and mental breakdown still resonating with viewers today.
Willard is a 1971 horror movie with a runtime of 1 hour and 35 minutes. It has received mostly poor reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 6.2 and a MetaScore of 49.