Can you believe we live in a time when video game adaptions are actually turning out to be well made and profitable? Where studios are willing to take risks on both movies and shows, aim to please both fans of the games and draw in a more casual audience, and greenlight adaptions that no-one could have predicted?
We’re living in good times, even if some of end results are found lacking.
Enter Five Nights at Freddy’s, an adaption of the video game franchise of the same name, that aims for mass appeal and ends up being wholly unremarkable. A film that does little to excite or offend, sitting squarely in the middle as a competent adaption and sanitised horror movie.
Directed by Emma Tammi, who co-wrote the screenplay with franchise creator Scott Cawthon and Seth Cuddeback, Five Nights At Freddy’s stars Josh Hutcherson, Elizabeth Lail, Piper Rubio, Mary Stuart Masterson, and Matthew Lillard.
Josh Hutcherson plays Mike, a man who is obsessed with trying to find out who was responsible for the kidnapping and disappearance of his younger brother. An event that happened when he was a child, and the fact that he almost saw the driver’s face, haunts him to this day. He believes he can identify the kidnapper in his dreams, so puts all his focus into recreating them and not focusing on his younger sister, Abby.
He is her guardian but is at risk of losing her, via social services, to their aunt, something neither Mike nor Abby want.
However, the risk increases when Mike loses yet another job. Desperate, and forced to give up his nights, he takes on the job of night security at the now defunct family entertainment centre, Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza.
All he must do is watch the monitors and make sure no-one breaks in. Unfortunately for Mike, it’s not what is outside that is the issue, but what is inside. The animatronics of Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza are alive, and they are not as friendly as they look.
As far as adapting a game franchise like Five Nights at Freddy’s goes, this movie does a serviceable job of telling its own story, giving it weight, and tying in the video games as much as possible. Yet, while this is praiseworthy, it gets bogged down by a story that simply takes far too long to get going. The lethargic pace of the story, coupled with puzzling character motivations, and predictable turns, leaves Five Nights at Freddy’s having far too many moments that feel like a chore to watch.
The biggest problem with Five Nights at Freddy’s is its script, evident by the fact that the movie comes in at 109 minutes long. How this story was stretched to such an extent is genuinely baffling.
Yet, it also suffers from characters that are unlikable, has no emotional impact, acting that can be quite awkward, and a tameness when it comes to horror. This might have a ‘15’ rating in the UK, but it is closer to a ‘12’ when it comes to scares and violence. Aside from the aftermath of one set of kills, pretty much everything happens off screen. Alongside that, the movie has a handful of jump scares that are simply laughable.
It sees as though the fact that the Five Nights at Freddy’s game franchise appeals to a younger audience was a factor in how much on-screen horror would take place in this movie. The goal was to deliver extremely safe and sanitised horror and that has been achieved. Yet, it in doing so, it disappoints those who might have hoped for a bit more blood and guts in a movie based around killer animatronics.
That feeling of being underwhelmed exists in so many faucets of the movie, even if never really does anything that can be called outright bad. Those of a certain age will definitely get a kick out of it, but for most, it’s going to pass from the mind shortly after watching. The total lack of impact this film has is perhaps the most disappointing thing of all
Five Nights At Freddy's (2023)
The Final Score - 5/10