Do you want to play a scary, intriguing video game? One where you’re trapped inside an abandoned pizzeria with killer animatronics? No? Well if not, you can watch somebody else spend nights doing so within the movie Five Nights at Freddys. A thrill into the late Halloween/spooky season!
Five Nights at Freddys, commonly abbreviated into FNAF, was released in theaters October 27th of this year 2023. The movie follows the troubled protagonist, Mike Schmidt, desperate to find a job to support and legally keep his younger sister Abby. What he didn’t know in his desperation to take any job as a security guard, was that this abandoned restaurant holds a secret: The animatronics once used for entertainment, Freddy, Bonnie, Chica and Foxy are possessed and kill people who break into the Pizzeria and or intrude on their space. Later on, one realizes the animatronics are more complicated than previously thought, as there is evilness that takes control over them as they are trapped within the walls of the Pizzeria.
Before I get into the review itself and my opinions (spoiler free, by the way), I want to point out the fact that this movie is based on a longstanding video game franchise also called Five Nights at Freddys. If you’ve seen any reviews, there is a large gap between the critics and audience reviews. According to Rotten Tomatoes, the critics score is 30% versus the audience score which sits at a significantly higher score of 88%. This proves that while it may have reached the liking and approval of the existing FNAF fans, which the movie was mainly based for, it might have not made the mark with critics who (most likely) did not have any knowledge of the games before watching.
To start off with clear positives for the movie, the casting and set design for this movie is FANTASTIC. The animatronics in the movie closely resemble how they are represented in the games, and so realistic for a live action movie. The design of the restaurant itself is well done, capturing the creepy feeling of an abandoned place from the 80’s where the games are set in. The casting and acting for our main characters are also on the spot for their roles. Josh Hutcherson, who plays as Mike Schmidt brought our troubled protagonist to life, another popular role of his being Peeta Mellark in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay (2014). Matthew Lillard is also a bigger role in FNAF as Mike’s career counselor, one of his other famous roles being Shaggy Rodgers in Scooby-Doo (2002), both achieving amazing characterization.
My transition into my critiques on the movie is an aspect of plot as well but more detail oriented. There is an underlying plot where Mike is facing custody issues in regards to keeping his younger sister Abby, but it doesn’t seem like much of a threat as the movie goes on. This is specifically in regards to the people involved, as they feel barely resolved or touched upon, making some of the narrative a bit awkward.
I wouldn’t consider this next point necessarily a critique, more so a missing personal preference. This movie wasn’t fully scary in terms of jumpscares, which is what the games provided as its main source of horror for the franchise. While I personally was on the edge of my seat because of the suspense, I didn’t feel the movie had enough jumpscare for what the franchise represents. It would have been nice to purposefully scare the audience more than leaning so heavily on typical movie storytelling all the time; there would have been more uniqueness in the movie to match the uniqueness in the franchise.
As my final comment, do I think the movie is a stellar cinema masterpiece? Not particularly. Do I still think it is a good movie, especially for fans of the franchise? Absolutely.
There are some little tweaks, perhaps some of the plot and ways it’s presented could be improved on, but overall it is a good viewing experience for being based on a video game franchise. For a movie that’s a gift for the fans as well, I believe they did a pretty good job overall in encapsulating most of what a fan would want to see and expect, or at the very least an idea of it. If you aren’t super familiar with the franchise or have no idea what to think, honestly it will be up to personal preference. I’ve heard ones who were not super familiar with the franchise still found it enjoyable to watch, as did I, making my younger self fulfilled with this movie experience.
Ending it off on a personal note, watching the Five Nights at Freddy’s movie was an enjoyable and pleasantly exciting experience. I’m excited to see what is next in store for the world of sentient animatronics and creepy abandoned pizzerias!
Gab Neal is a Staff Writer. Her email is email@example.com.