GenreDrama, Horror, Sci-Fi Music directorShirley Walker LanguageEnglish
WriterStephen Gilbert, Glen Morgan Release dateMarch 15, 2003 (2003-03-15) CastCrispin Glover (Willard Stiles), R. Lee Ermey (Frank Martin), Laura Harring (Cathryn), Jackie Burroughs (Henrietta Stiles), Ashlyn Gere (Ms. Leach), William S. Taylor (Mr. Garter) Similar moviesI Spit on Your Grave III: Vengeance is Mine, Mad Max: Fury Road, John Wick, Furious 7, Taken 3, Knock Knock
TaglineWhen the cat's away, the rats will play.
Desperate for companionship, the repressed Willard (Crispin Glover) befriends a group of rats that inhabit his late fathers deteriorating mansion. In these furry creatures, Willard finds temporary refuge from daily abuse at the hands of his bedridden mother (Jackie Burroughs) and his fathers old partner, Frank (R. Lee Ermey). Soon it becomes clear that the brood of rodents is ready and willing to exact a vicious, deadly revenge on anyone who dares to bully their sensitive new master.
Willard is a 2003 horror film loosely based on the novel Ratmans Notebooks by Stephen Gilbert and a remake of the 1971 film Willard. It was not billed as a remake by the producers, but as a re-working of the themes from the original, with a stronger focus on suspense.
Desperate for companionship, the repressed Willard befriends a group of rats that inhabit his late father's deteriorating mansion. In these furry creatures, Willard finds temporary refuge from daily abuse at the hands of his bedridden mother and his father's old partner, Frank. Soon it becomes clear that the brood of rodents is ready and willing to exact a vicious, deadly revenge on anyone who dares to bully their sensitive new master.
Willard 2003 trailer
Willard Stiles (Crispin Glover) is a social misfit taking care of his ill and fragile but verbally abusive mother Henrietta (Jackie Burroughs) in a musty old mansion that is also home to a colony of rats. Willard finds himself constantly humiliated in front of his co-workers by his cruel boss, Frank Martin (R. Lee Ermey), a vicious man who assumed control of the company from Willards father upon his death, and whose professional interest in Willard extends to a personal financial one. A co-worker, Cathryn (Laura Elena Harring), has sympathy for the quirky Willard. Cathryn becomes Willards friend and love interest.
Willard quickly becomes obsessed with his friendship with a rat he names Socrates. Willard then begins to train and befriend the other rats including an extra large one he calls Ben. Ben begins to assume a position of "leadership" among the other rats, while Socrates remains Willards favorite. Willards mother panics when she overhears the rats and later dies by falling down the stairs of the basement. Willard learns soon afterward that payments on the house have fallen far behind, and that the bank will likely foreclose upon the property. Willard then says that Socrates is all he has left.
Cathryn stops by and gives Willard a house-trained cat named Sculley, he sets the cat inside and leaves. The rats, led by Ben, attack and kill Sculley. When Willard arrives home he notices Ben watching him evilly; Willard begins to distrust Ben thereafter.
Desperately lonely, Willard begins to bring Socrates to work with him. Willard finds a note at his desk declaring that hes being fired by Frank Martin from the company his father founded. While hes arguing with Martin, begging not to be fired, Socrates is discovered by a coworker in the supply room. Her screams alert Martin who bludgeons Socrates to death. Willard, his mental state already precarious, is devastated. Willard turns to Ben, who is more than willing to guide the army of basement rats to help Willard avenge himself upon his boss. Willard and his basement rats confront Martin, and upon Willards command they swarm Martin and tear him apart.
Willard, however, mistrusts Ben and attempts to dispose of him and the other rats. He succeeds in killing some, but Ben remains, and turns the remaining rat army against Willard. Willard barely escapes with his life, and kills Ben. But an epilogue reveals that he has retreated into a semi-catatonic state and been placed in a mental institution. There he finds a new white rat, which looks like Socrates and he believes is the rebirth of his one friend. In the end Willard beckons the rat over to him and says "Its not over yet, no! Our time is going to come."
Crispin Glover as Willard Stiles: An antisocial worker for Martin-Stiles Manufacturing, a business that was originally started by his father but was "stolen" by Frank Martin. Willard is constantly tormented by his boss and his beloved mother. He befriends a colony of rats, especially a white rat named Socrates and a big rat named Ben. When his torment finally makes Willard vengeful, he uses his rats to get revenge, transforming into a sociopath.
R. Lee Ermey as Frank Martin: A cruel and uncaring CEO of Martin-Stiles Manufacturing. He constantly humiliates Willard for his late arrivals at work and even kills his pet rat Socrates. He is eventually eaten alive by Willards rats.
Laura Elena Harring as Cathryn: A co-worker and love interest of Willard who sympathizes with him, and starts to return the affection - going so far as to angrily quit her job when she learns of Willards firing, until she realizes his involvement in Martins murder.
Jackie Burroughs as Henrietta Stiles: Willards ill yet verbally abusive mother who even calls him "Clark" since she hates his real name.
Kimberly Patton aka Ashlyn Gere as Ms. Leach: A cynical secretary for Frank Martin.
William S. Taylor as Mr. Garter: A trustee of the Stiles estate who informs Willard of dire financial straits after Willards mother dies.
Ty Olsson as Officer Salmon: A policeman who discovers Willard is "nuts."
The film opened at #8 at the U.S. Box office and grossed $4,010,593 USD in its first opening weekend, falling to #13 the following week. It grossed $6,886,089 in domestic box office and $1,660,577 in foreign box office.
The film received favorable reviews. The movie has a score of 61 out of 100 by Metacritic, and a 64% from all reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes,
Willard and Ben are part of the same movie series. James Wong produced Willard and Black Christmas. Shirley Walker composed the music for Willard and Final Destination 2. James Wong produced Willard and directed Final Destination. The Lair of the White Worm (1988).
Crispin Glover was nominated for Best Actor at the 2004 Saturn Awards.
Robert McLachlan won the CSC award at the Canadian Society of Cinematographers Awards for Best Cinematography in a Theatrical Feature.
The DVD release was nominated for a Golden Satellite award in Best DVD Extras at the 2004 Satellite Awards.