Five Night’s at Freddy’s movie review: Can you survive the night?

By Daniel Duque, Nov. 7, 2023

To the delight of fans from the video game franchise, the Five Nights at Freddy’s movie was officially released Oct. 27 after eight years, marking the first appearance of Freddy Fazbear and his friends on the big screen, courtesy of Universal Studios and Blumhouse Productions.

Five Nights at Freddy’s, created by indie developer Scott Cawthon, started as a 2014 point-and-click horror game. Due to its unique gameplay and premise, it evolved into its own franchise which currently consists of 20 games, a book series and a horror attraction.

It was once a place for fun, games and family entertainment. After tragedy struck, it became an eerie, desolate and hopeless facility and leaving behind memories of happy children.

“Five Nights at Freddy’s” tells the story of Mike Schmidt, played by Josh Hutcherson, a struggling mall security guard and legal guardian of his little sister Abby. After getting fired due to a misunderstanding, he is forced to take a night security job at Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza, offered by peculiar career counselor Steve Raglan, played by Matthew Lillard.

Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza was once a joyful and popular family pizzeria and arcade during the 1980s, recognizable by its mascot animatronics: Freddy Fazbear, Bonnie, Chica and Foxy the pirate fox. Following the mysterious disappearance of five children inside the restaurant, it was forced to close its doors.

Schmidt takes on his first shift at Freddy’s, and after falling asleep, the audience learns about a traumatic event from his past: the abduction of his little brother Garrett during a family picnic, an event that pursues him in his dreams.

“Five Nights at Freddy’s” outstands by  referencing gameplay features like Foxy running down the hallway, the security camera screens and how the animatronics calculate their movements to avoid being seen by the guard.

During his second night, Schmidt meets a police officer, Vanessa, who explains the story behind the closure of the pizzeria and gives him tips to take on his shifts effectively.

Following the disappearance and death of Abby’s babysitter, Schmidt is forced to bring her to work, unbeknownst to the truth behind Garrett’s abduction and discover a horrific secret about Vanessa.

The events from the game’s storyline are accurately referenced throughout the film. The best example is the “Bite of ‘87.”

The mystery behind the “Bite of ‘87” remains as one of the most debated topics among fans of the franchise, arguing the multiple theories about the animatronics origins.

The character design and scenery featured in the film accurately represent what the players see when playing the original game. The animatronics are identical to their video game models and follow the exact pattern from in the game: Bonnie hides in the supplies closet before attempting to enter the office, Chica roams inside the kitchen making loud noises with the utensils to warn the guard of her presence, Foxy approaches his victims running at high a speed and Freddy moves slowly but carefully calculating every step.

Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza shows a more polished appearance but is not far from the building featured in Five Nights at Freddy’s.

Aside from the visuals, the movie accurately showcases how the animatronics behave around people. With Abby, the animatronics are friendly and welcoming, but they are hostile and aggressive toward Schmidt.

Although accurate with the events of the games, this film has some flaws. During the first quarter of the film, the progression of events is slow and unrelated to the storyline of the franchise, like Schmidt’s legal battle with his aunt for Abby’s guardianship and Abby’s struggles in school.

Another flaw was the repetitiveness of Schmidt’s dream during his shifts. Although it is a way to show the audience about his past, it takes over and cuts into what is happening outside his dream including how the animatronics move and behave during the night, which is part of the charm.

“Five Nights at Freddy’s” is a love letter to the fans of the franchise. It combines humor, drama and horror to effectively tell the sad story behind the animatronics of Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza while remaining loyal to the elements from the games’ storyline and gameplay features.

With a few jump scares and gory scenes, this movie also works as a good option for newcomers to the horror genre and an introduction to those who are  unfamiliar with the Five Nights At Freddy’s franchise.

As someone who grew up playing the games, discussed theories with the fans, analyzed the extensive storyline and waited eight years for the movie to be finally announced and released, Five Nights At Freddy’s met my expectations.

Feature courtesy of Universal Studios 

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