Review ‘Five Nights at Freddy’s’

Welcome to Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza. A magical place for kids and grown-ups alike, where fantasy and fun come to life!

While fans of the infamous video game Five Nights at Freddy’s have finally gotten a feature adaptation despite spending nearly a decade in development limbo, most are divided on whether the film is a faithful adaptation of the source material. Easily described as an unapologetically campy horror, the movie hasn’t fared well with critics… but how do fans feel about it?

Five Nights at Freddy’s follows an unemployed Mike (Josh Hutcherson) as he begins his new job as a night guard at an abandoned 80’s kids arcade and pizza parlor. Directed by Emma Tammi and produced by Jason Blum, the film takes a more adolescent approach due to its PG-13 rating but still manages to deliver an entertaining story with well crafted characters and some seriously silly moments. A certain bargain must be made between this film and its audiences, who consent to disbanding their regular beliefs of the world by stepping into the darkly comedic world of Freddy’s, a place where the animatronic band comes to life every night animated by ghosts of the children slain by restaurant owner, William Afton. The film spends most of its runtime focusing on Mike, who struggles to be an adequate brother and guardian to his little sister Abby. It delivers little to no scares, likely due to the PG-13 rating taming the majority of its more frightening subject matter and happens to play more like a drama with fleeting elements of horror and comedy. The characters themselves are likable enough, and fans of the genre get an Easter egg of their own in the form of Matthew Lillard, who plays the career counselor responsible for securing Mike his new job at Freddy’s.

Although the film’s first half is devoid of any scares and moves slowly to initiate its core characters and story, the second half picks up considerably once the animatronic killers make their appearances. The animatronic killers—named Bonnie, Chica, Foxy and (of course) Freddy—looked and behaved less scary and more goofy. Despite the audience being aware of what the mascots are truly capable of, they provide an element of comedic relief throughout the film’s more dramatic notes surrounding Mike’s faltering relationship with Piper Rubio’s Abby. Josh Hutcherson leads this film effortlessly and does well in portraying how Mike’s past haunts him. It’s nice to see this Hunger Games alum in another leading role in such a bold and outlandish genre. There’s a good balance in this movie when dealing with its core concept; audiences won’t feel like what they’re watching is totally unbelievable (thanks to strong writing). At the very least, the movie is a lot of fun. At the very most, the movie is an entertaining horror comedy dashed with classic genre elements like jaw dropping kills, along with some shocking twists and reveals. There’s a lot we liked about this movie beyond the characters, who were all very likable to begin with (animatronic slashers included). Everyone has a full arc and every box we opened felt fully explored, especially in the case of Elizabeth Lial’s character Vanessa.

(from left) Foxy, Chica, Freddy Fazbear and Bonnie in Five Nights at Freddy’s, directed by Emma Tammi.

Although there’s definitely room for a sequel, wrapping up this initial story with Mike and Abby felt right and satisfactory. How these siblings overpower the big bad is brilliant and arguably the best part of the film. They’re finally able to work together and use their strengths, along with their understanding of the story world’s lore, in order to outwit the central antagonist and provide audiences with a genuinely solid payoff. Hefty tension is built expertly throughout the last few sequences, which was my favorite section of the movie… and it seems the Freddy’s fans in the theater with me totally agreed. An R rating would’ve undoubtedly made the film more entertaining, but a PG-13 rating opens the box office up to the fandom’s younger game players to watch in theaters.

Fans of the game in the theater during Universal’s private screening were screaming, laughing, cheering—a definite sign of the filmmakers’ loyalty to the source material while incorporating their own spins and elements. Five Nights at Freddy’s is a fun little horror comedy for young teens looking for something that will make them laugh while also settling them into the Halloween spirit! For those watching this weekend, remember… Fazbear Entertainment is not responsible for damage to any property or persons!

Watch the trailer for Five Nights at Freddy’s below

Universal Pictures releases Five Nights at Freddy’s in theatres everywhere Friday, Oct 27th, 2023

[Review by guest blogger Jurgen Sosa]