Who would’ve thought that a teensy tiny little indie hit called Five Nights at Freddy’s would go on to spawn an entire library of wildly popular video games, books, figurines and now of course, a movie? Certainly not me, that’s for sure. However, does this film by Emma Tammi, Blumhouse and Scott Cawthon Productions capture the essence of the source material? Or is it just another generic slasher that’s casually crept into Halloween season? We’re about to find out…
Did They Pull It Off?
As the credits ran on this almost 2-hour-long feature film, an audience member behind me snarkily said
“I was expecting to laugh at this film for its goofiness. Instead, I was honestly keen on sticking round” in the most Aussie accent ever. I must admit though, I had the exact same mindset going in. But to my disbelief, the movie turned out to be quite entertaining—say what?
Throughout the film, the production values from Blumhouse and Scott Cawthon are surprisingly solid, and the iconic animatronics translate tremendously well onto the big screen. Seeing as Sonic the Hedgehog’s live-action character design was universally panned when the first movie’s initial trailer dropped, it’s mighty impressive how spot-on the animatronics were made here. Believe it or not, Freddy and friends are all practical puppeteered creations with only a subtle sprinkle of VFX to dial in the aesthetic.
Across the board, the acting is pretty decent, with particularly high-quality performances from leading lad, Josh Hutcherson and his in-universe little sister, Piper Rubio which help invest the audience in their plights. For those who haven’t played the games, Mike Schmidt (Hutcherson) a so-called “delinquent” ends up taking a night-time security guard position out of desperation to keep custody of his sister. He starts surveilling a local Chuck E. Cheese-style restaurant called Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza Place, which seems easy enough to Schmidt at first, though its animatronic residents may have other plans after the clock strikes twelve…
So, So Close
With a good mix of suspense and mystery to keep the audience hooked, Five Nights at Freddy’s story is largely compelling. You won’t need to play any of the games or experience any of its extended universe material either. Conversely, fans of the series will be rewarded for their faithfulness with some cheeky cameos, Easter Eggs and revelations that’ll make local theatregoers gasp in shock several times, just like mine did. Even if a few of the reveals are a little too on-the-nose, the producers seem very aware of what their audience is looking for.
Even though certain events get oddly swept under the rug for no logical reason, along with the occasional “well, that just happened” moment, the overall tone and scares are fairly consistent… Apart from one scene that almost completely derailed the tension halfway in. That being said, the final act can’t help but feel anti-climactic, and it’s a shame they didn’t incorporate the series staple, sit-and-squawk-at-the-camera-shenanigans as much as they could have. Felt like a missed opportunity, to be honest.
Believe it or not, The Five Nights at Freddy’s film is actually worth a watch. Even though it was made on a relatively low budget, the production design and attention to detail really stand out. You’d be remiss for thinking that this is just a cheap cash grab, as Five Nights at Freddy’s is a great homage to the source material, even if the camera-style gameplay is mostly left untouched. The story and characters are fleshed out and acted quite well, with some great little callbacks and references to its cultural impact. However, the ending seems rushed and doesn’t feel very satisfying, leaving the audience wanting more. After all’s said and done, it’s still an enjoyable enough film to jump into Halloween.
Regardless of whether you’re a rabid fan or have somehow never heard of the series, Five Nights at Freddy’s makes for a frighteningly fun movie-going experience. The main story and characters are surprisingly in-depth, and the level of care put into this production is definitely nothing to scoff at. While it’s ending sequences and parts of the script feel a little off at times, the acting, ambience and animatronic puppetry ultimately make it worth watching.
Film by Blumhouse and Scott Cawthon Productions. The Beta Network uses affiliate partnerships, however, this does not influence reviews or any other content published. The Beta Network may earn commissions for products purchased via affiliate links that are on the website.