Five Nights at Freddy’s Review | Unbearable or not?

Did Freddy and his friends hit big on the big screen? Find out in this months movie review!
Did Freddy and his friends hit big on the big screen? Find out in this month’s movie review!
Image by Jared Jimenez


It’s been 8 years since the movie adaptation of Five Nights at Freddy’s (FNaF), an indie horror game franchise, was announced. The overall production of the movie has been a mess ever since it was announced, constantly changing directors, changing scripts, and even changing studios. However, as of October 27th, the movie has been released and isn’t faring too well with the critics, yet the fans adore it.

The Story

One of the biggest reasons why FNaF is so popular is due to its complex story or “lore.” Implementing a story that’s as complicated and convoluted as FNaF’s into a feature film is easier said than done. In a point-and-click video game, it’s easier to loosely sprinkle small snippets of a larger story as most of the time spent with the game is playing it. In a feature-length movie, you have to figure out how to properly set up a story that’ll keep the fans of the source material happy, but also not lose any casual newcomers.
The way the movie accomplishes this is unBEARable. The movie is supposed to be an adaptation of the first FNaF game, the design of the animatronics, the office, and Mike Schmidt, the protagonist. But the movie brings in ideas from the games and some new and original surprises that are either undercooked with little to no setup or have no relevance to the story whatsoever.
For example, Mike’s missing brother. Mike witnessed his little brother, Garret, being kidnapped as a child. A lot of the movie centers around Mike going back to that memory via dream sequences. Mike witnessed his brother being kidnapped as a young child and has lived closely with that memory ever since. While interesting, Mike seems to get over it halfway through the movie, and the whole “missing brother” subplot doesn’t matter in the end. It doesn’t connect to anything at all, it just feels like a conflict just to check a box to stay true to the games.
Matthew Lillard as William Afton a.k.a Springtrap felt like he wasn’t utilized to his full potential. There was practically no setup to his character the whole movie so if you had no previous knowledge of FNaF or William’s character, when he showed up in the big climax, it felt like it came out of nowhere. Even if you did have previous knowledge of William’s character, he had no scenes of being a murderer before the climax, not counting the 8-bit opening credits sequence.
So the story of the movie has a lot of undercooked chunks and hastily attempts to stay accurate to the games. However, the issues don’t stop there, the tone is just as much, if not more of a mess than the story.

The Tone

For a “horror” movie, the movie isn’t scary. There are jumpscares which the games are famous for but the atmosphere and psychological horror from the games just aren’t there. Not to mention the animatronics. Known as the big bads of the first game, the animatronics act like children. When Mike takes his little sister Abby to one of his shifts, they all build a fort out of tables and chairs, a light-hearted sequence but it doesn’t fit in with the rest of the movie at all. Fans have tried defending the movie by saying that the animatronics are possessed by kids so of course they’d act like kids. But when the rest of the movie shows them murdering people and being trapped in a closed-off pizza parlor for 20 years, it doesn’t make any sense how they would still act as innocent as they were before being killed.

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Production Design and Physical Effects

Screen-used animatronics on display at Halloween Horror Nights in Universal Studios Hollywood. (Image by Sophie Moreno )

Despite being atrocious in story and tone, the production designers and practical effect artists hit it out of the park with this movie! The restaurant design is amazing and looks like something that would be considered a kid’s wonderland in the 80s. Everything from the neon light signs to the stained glass windows of the animatronic characters, especially the exterior sign of the building looks astonishing. The animatronics are just as incredible, created by Jim Henson’s Creature Shop, and the animatronic characters look amazing. They look extremely accurate

to the games and are just adorable. There were two sets of characters. One where the characters are actual animatronics, and the other where the characters are suits with articulated heads, similar to what you would see in Disney World.

References and Cameos

The amount of references this movie has is insane. Too many to list off here but I’ll mention a few stand-outs. Firstly, MatPat, owner of the popular YouTube channel The Game Theorists or Game Theory, plays a waiter at a Diner called Sparky’s, a reference to a hoax character in the first game.
Another easter egg is the popular YouTube Let’s Player CoryxKenshin. A veteran of the FNaF franchise who has been a fan since 2014. One last easter egg is the rainbow shown on an ice cream vendor at a mall at the beginning of the movie, the rainbow is named Chica’s Magic Rainbow and is the main antagonist of FNaF World, a spinoff RPG (role-playing game) game.

Final Score

In the end, Five Nights at Freddy’s is a movie with enough accuracy to the games and references to keep fans happy and incredible visuals but too much backstory that largely goes unexplained and story beats that needed more time in the oven. The Five Nights at Freddy’s movie gets a 4/10.  I’m hoping the supposed sequel can exceed it





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