December 13, 2023


2023 / 109 min
Review by Josey, the Sudden Cat🙀

Five Night at Freddy’s comes both recommended and not recommended.

I watched this one with my daughter, Lucy, who’s been a huge FNAF fan ever since the video game became a cult favorite. It’s a good thing, too, because she knew the relevance of things that the movie itself seldom bothers explaining. As we watched, she clearly - and vocally - enjoyed the plethora of Easter Eggs peppered throughout the film. 

For fans, Five Nights at Freddy’s is sort of like one of those kids’ picture games where you try to spot all the objects hiding in plain sight somewhere in the scene. And I suppose there’s some fun to be had in that. Lucy had fun, anyway.

So as two hours of kid-friendly fan service, it works just fine. As a horror film, not so much.

Five Nights at Freddy’s suffers from the same pitfalls as most horror game adaptations. What makes those games scary is the player’s participation, forced to venture into dark passages to face whatever terror awaits. Any actual “story” is just a connecting thread between game levels and of little real importance. Once you take away the participation, the story is all you have left, and the one in FNAF is muddled, disjointed and a little depressing. 

"Did that kid just call us Teletubbies?"
Though chock full of characters that gamers will recognize, there’s little effort to flesh them out into interesting people. Mike (Josh Hutcherson) might be the dullest protagonist I’ve seen in a horror movie since Cameron Vale in Scanners. As for the antagonist(s), they are faithful recreations of their video game counterparts, but not nearly as creepy in a live-action setting. 

Elsewhere, perfunctory cinematography and unimaginative direction tend to undermine attempts at atmosphere or tension. If not for the child-murder backstory and a few surprisingly violent death scenes, one might even suspect a conscious effort not to make the film too scary for the kiddie crowd. That’s unfortunate because, had they not pulled their punches, the scenes involving a saw-lined bear mask could have been wonderfully horrific.

As the end credits rolled, Lucy admitted Five Nights at Freddy’s wasn't any good, but absolutely loved all the Easter Eggs, YouTuber cameos and game-related references. I imagine most FNAF gamers will feel the same, so for them, the film is highly recommended. Conversely, horror movie fans will likely be underwhelmed and bored.


FEATURETTES - Five Nights at Freddy’s: From Game to the Big Screen (features interviews with the cast & crew); Killer Animatronics (a segment on the animatronic characters); Five Nights in Three Dimensions (production design).


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