Warning: This article contains spoilers.
In the last few years, we have seen some decent video game movies. “Detective Pikachu,” the Sonic the Hedgehog movies, and even “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” were all received well by the public. But there was a connection between them: they were all aimed at children.
Past video game adaptations like “Assassin’s Creed” and “Hitman” were box office failures. Even the big-name cast of “Doom” couldn’t make it a successful blockbuster. So when we heard they were attempting a “Five Nights at Freddy’s” movie, we wondered: “Is it possible to make a good video game movie?” Apparently… yes!
‘Five Nights at Freddy’s’
“Five Nights At Freddy’s” was a surprisingly good movie. I was personally hesitant when I first heard about it. Translating the simple concept of staring at security screens and experiencing jump scares over and over didn’t exactly come across like a movie worth watching. Even being a fan and knowing the lore behind the entire video game series, I was expecting another cash-grab movie that slapped a well-known name on a film that picked and chose random bits of source material to justify it. However, Blumhouse came through with another success.
We follow Mike Shmidt (Josh Hutcherson) as he struggles with a traumatic past and the responsibility of taking care of his little sister, Abby (Piper Rubio). After an incident triggered by his trauma, he is fired and desperate for job options — all the while being berated by his aunt Jane (Mary Stuart Masterson), who is trying to take Abby away from him. Given only one viable option left, he accepts a job as a night security guard for the long-closed-down Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza. It is here where things take a turn for the worst, as the old animatronics turn out to be more than just advanced metal robots. After Abby is introduced to the band of metal rockstars, Mike must keep her safe in the midst of it all.
Fans will recognize Mike Schmidt as the faceless security guard from the title-sharing first game in the series. The movie takes that character and gives him a life and motivation outside of just working a bad-paying job. It is here where the story of the movie really takes place.
You feel for Mike as he struggles with his trauma, brought on by an unfortunate and tragic incident from his childhood, in which his brother is taken and never seen again. He has recurring self-torturing dreams of the past, which eventually get invaded by the more supernatural aspects of Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza. This ultimately makes Mike even more invested in spending time at the pizza place.
Watching the relationship Mike has with Abby develop over the movie is a surprisingly touching aspect of the film. This relationship moves back and forth from rocky to comforting, from gut-wrenching to heartwarming. Seeing where this relationship ends up is the main focus of the plot and what drives the characters.
Fans will be enticed by the appearance of other characters, like the helpful locale police officer, Vanessa (Elizabeth Lail), and the awkwardly helpful Steve Raglan (Matthew Lillard). There are many different fan-targeted moments, objects, and lines scattered throughout the movie. However, none of them detract from the story or negatively impact it in any way.
When it comes to Blumhouse, most would expect some real scares and maybe even a decent amount of gore. “Five Nights at Freddy’s” doesn’t follow that trend. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of unsettling moments, and even some that would make the average moviegoer jump.
I think “Five Nights at Freddy’s” does a good job of balancing the scares. I imagine Blumhouse went into production knowing audiences would expect an absurd amount of jump scares, as that’s what the game is known for. The movie seemed to be a bit playful with this. The jump scares that happen are mostly there for laughs. The real scares and unsettling moments come from things like the slow movements of the animatronics, the intense atmosphere of the scenes, and the feelings you develop for the characters.
At the end of the film, I was left surprised — the movie was actually good! Now, is it a cinematic masterpiece? No. It’s a silly movie based on a horror video game that is based on a silly and unrealistic concept.
But it’s not supposed to be a cornerstone of cinema. It’s just a really fun movie. You go in thinking it will be just another horror movie, but come out having enjoyed watching and feeling it was worth your time. Will there be a sequel? Should there be a sequel? It’s hard to say. A common issue with the video game series is that it became a bit repetitive with every new sequel or off-shoot released, and I see how that could be the case for the film franchise too. For now, I think “Five Nights at Freddy’s” is a good watch that can be enjoyed by anyone who likes light horror movies.
I give this movie 8 pizza slices out of 10.
“Five Nights at Freddy’s” is rated PG-13. Watch the trailer below: