Movie: Five Nights at Freddy’s
Production Companies: Blumhouse Productions, Scott Cawthon Productions
Director: Emma Tammi
Producers: Scott Cawthon, Jason Blum
Scriptwriters: Scott Cawthon, Seth Cuddeback, Emma Tammi
Main Cast: Josh Hutcherson, Elizabeth Lail, Piper Rubio, Mary Stuart Masterson, Matthew Lillard
Release Date: 25th October 2023 (UK)
Running Time: 109 minutes
Who knew Five Nights at Freddy’s would be so divisive? For a film which first came about in 2015 the fact it’s taken this long and is still dividing opinions that’s actually kind of impressive. Anyway, in spite of some very well done animatronics there’s very little else which is worth praising from the film, unless you’re a hardcore FNAF lore nerd. And the fact they under utilise Matthew Lillard in a B list horror film is a bigger crime than Freddy Fazbear’s Pizzeria Simulator. So, call me MatPat because I’m taking a look into the messy world of Five Nights at Freddy’s.
Five Nights at Freddy’s is loosely based on the first game of the same name and follows terrible dad and all round heavy sleeper, Mike Schmidt (Hutcherson), as he is forced to take a weird night guard shift at Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza. But this soon turns nightmarish when the animatronics there begin to kill anyone who stays in the restaurant past midnight. Soon, Mike has to find a way to save him, his daughter and poorly defined love interest, Vanessa, from the clutches of the animatronics and a certain evil serial killer, William Afton.
The Lore of Five Nights at Freddy’s
I guess the best place to start is with the animatronics and the lore featured throughout the film because they’re the only highlights. Whether it’s the details like including the Cupcake, the fact Foxy is the only animatronic to sprint or the importance of checking the vents, there’s plenty of niche little moments for long time fans to enjoy. And for a film which only cost $20 million, $10 million less than the dogs**t film that was The Exorcist Believer, the animatronics genuinely look brilliant which again really helps the film as you could believe that they’d kidnap and try to kill people in the restaurant.
I mean even the detailing of Foxy being slightly more skeletal than some of the others, like Freddie or Bonnie, is a lovely detail again. And who could forget the man who’s been tormented by the series so much, MatPat, having a cameo? So, while most of the film is irredeemable garbage, the amount of effort that went into fan service and the animatronics is great to see.
The Screenplay within Five Nights at Freddy’s
Now as to be expected, the FNAF screenplay is about as structurally sound as a house of cards. Case in point, the film is trying to be clever and hiding Vanessa’s connection to Freddy’s but anyone who’s paying any level of attention has probably figured it out from the incredibly subtle hints. Also, once again relying on the deadbeat dad trope to make an audience like your main character actually means your main character has to be likely.
Which is precisely why the film’s screenplay makes Mike as dislikeable as possible as despite him trying to work hard he’s mostly asleep or violently assaulting people, like in the mall at the beginning, which doesn’t really endear him to the audience. Also, so many of the film’s problems are basic misunderstandings as the scene where Jane thinks Mike is beating his daughter is so avoidable if she just moves slightly further forward, rather than unnecessarily jumping to conclusions made by her Reddit true crime story aunt. But the biggest crime the screenplay commits is how little it gives to Matthew Lillard which is an absolute sin.
To summarise Five Nights at Freddy’s, this is a below average adaptation which should never really have had the hype it did considering the end product. So unless you’re a big FNAF fan, there’s not much here for you unless you’re really really into child murdering animatronics and a shitty Springtrap origin post credits scene. But hey, at least Scott got to torture MatPat one more time….
Overall Rating: 4/10 – Disappointing
Target Audience: 15+
Content Warning: Moderate Violence and Gore, Mild Profanity, Moderate Frightening and Intense Scenes