A pioneering animal disaster tale, WILLARD stands head-and-paws amongst the vast number of early-‘70s critter flicks. It’s like if a young Tim Burton resurrected Hitchcock’s ghost to help him make a horror movie!
Bruce Davison is an emotionally stunted, down-on-his-luck introvert worn down from a humiliating relationship with his boss (Ernest Borgnine in joyously blustery sleazeball mode.) Befriending a pair of intelligent rats, Willard discovers he can destroy his enemies by telling his new friends to “tear ‘em up!” But revenge never comes without a price — in this case, the price is a temperamental rat named Ben who’s the size of a Smart car.
Anchored by Davison’s affecting portrayal of a nerd on the edge, WILLARD at times plays more like a gonzo story of empowerment — a darkly tinged entry into the triumphant catalogue of enduring underdog stories.