Willard (1971) - Rotten Tomatoes


Willard (1971)




Critic Consensus: Willard has an intriguing character study lurking within - but much of those elements, like many of the movie's characters, are swallowed up by rats.

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Movie Info

In this horror film, the young, disturbed Willard Stiles befriends a pair of rats and trains them to brutally attack human beings. When his boss steps over the line, Willard sicks his deadly horde of flesh-eating rats on him. However, Willard's greatest allies become his worst enemies.

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Bruce Davison
as Willard Stiles
Ernest Borgnine
as Al Martin
Elsa Lanchester
as Henrietta Stiles
Jo Gilbert
as Charlotte Stassen
Jody Gilbert
as Charlotte Stassen
Joan Shawlee
as Alice Rickles
William Hansen
as Mr. Barskin
J. Pat O'Malley
as Jonathan Farley
John Myhers
as Mr. Carlson
Helen Spring
as Mrs. Becker
Pauline Drake
as Ida Stassen
Almira Sessions
as Carrie Smith
Alan Baxter
as Walter T. Spencer
Sherry Presnell
as Mrs. Spencer
Lola Kendrick
as Mrs. Martin
Robert Golden
as Motorcycle Rider
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Critic Reviews for Willard

All Critics (24) | Top Critics (2)

The movie, however, persists in crossing its lines of stimulation, resulting in a series of little short-circuits that effectively limit pleasure to an occasional line or bit of business.

May 9, 2005 | Full Review…

What is it in this film that touches some deep-buried nerve in the public psyche? Why does wholesome family entertainment fade away, while rats make millions?

October 23, 2004 | Rating: 2/4 | Full Review…


December 28, 2021 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…

Mann's shoddy staging, haphazard framing (he seems to be allergic to close-ups) and low-contrast lighting sap the drama and tension from most of the movie. The ending is cool, though.

September 27, 2018 | Full Review…

It's brave work, and the role seems tailor-made for the actor, who's enjoyed an entire career playing easily winded jerks, with Willard's descent into authority and panic vividly captured.

September 27, 2018 | Full Review…

It's a complex and sympathetic character study and for a few misfits in the audience, it gave us a protagonist we could finally identify with and a film that helped define our later lives.

September 27, 2018 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Willard

If you read the rats as a metaphor for a misfit's innermost dark impulses (like Psycho with rodents), then you will find more to enjoy in this trashy, clumsy and poorly-directed movie that can't even make sense of how Willard learns to communicate with his disgusting little friends.

Carlos Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer

Willard is an interesting horror tale about a social misfit who has a hard time and his only friends are rats. This is an eerie little horror yarn that is quite creepy, especially if you hate rats. The performances here are very good, and the lead actor who plays the title character, Bruce Davison is terrific and he gives the character a certain menacing charm that keeps you involved. Daniel Mann's direction is immaculate, and he crafts something unique and quite cheesy at the same name. However it works with effective results. The film has a dark atmosphere that is almost melancholic and helpless, which sets your distractions away from the cheesy notion of attacking rats. Aside from that, there are some impressive names like Ernest Borgnine. Willard is an entertaining picture that is sure to thrill horror fans and it boasts a well plotted story with a great cast and awesome direction. If you love old horror films that are somewhat forgotten, then give Willard a shot. This is a skin crawling affair that will certainly make you feel uncomfortable. This is a highly entertaining film that delivers s the thrills and chills. Willard has its imperfections, but due to a strong cast and well written script, this is a standout horror film that offers up a memorable and tense viewing experience. I really loved the film, and if you want a film that will give you the willies, then Willard is such a film. This is among the finest horror films of the 1970's and it is quite different as well. This is a film that deserves to be rediscovered and it really brings a tense, chilling atmosphere to the viewer. If you hate rats, then this will certainly make you feel uncomfortable from the first frame onwards. However it is a must see for sheer terror and great acting.

Alex roy
Alex roy

Super Reviewer

A pretty good cast, but the movie isn't very scary at all, in fact it's kind of funny at times. I liked it anyway.

Aj V
Aj V

Super Reviewer

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