After years of troubled production, “Five Nights at Freddy’s” has finally come to the big screen! I’ve always wondered how someone could stretch this into a full film as the game is incredibly simple. This live screen adaptation focuses on Mike, a security guard with a troubled past. He starts a new position working at Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza, an abandoned entertainment center with a dark history. He quickly realizes that night shift won’t be so easy to manage, as large animatronics possessed by ghost children roam the halls at night. Mike must get to the bottom of the establishment’s history before he becomes part of it…permanently.
“FNAF” was one of my most anticipated movies of the year. The dense lore surrounding the games fascinated me. As the release date grew closer, I had to jump in and play the games. That says something too because I am not a gamer. But I’m glad I did as the movie is very lore heavy. “FNAF” is a textbook example of making a movie for the fans. There are nods left and right to the games, which were fun to look for throughout the film. I heard a few yelps and ooohs from different audience members at my screening. I loved seeing such a beloved game brought to life, giving fans an experience they’ll remember forever. “FNAF” seemed to please them, and that’s what matters!
A large part of the film’s marketing was the practical effects. Audiences going to the theater seem to be tired of movies saturated in CGI. “FNAF” bucks modern trends and developed large scale animatronics that feel as real as the humans around them. Their sheer size and presence make the film more immersive. During the tense sequences or a chase down a dark hallway, the real animatronics helped me buy into the scene taking place. I appreciate when such care and effort is made to bring a story like this to life. The cinematography is also top notch, featuring nice transitions between shots and sharp imagery that is pleasant to the eye. Details like these shine during the creepier scenes where the lights flicker and the animatronics move with the light. It’s also cool when their eyes light up in a dark room, amping up the tension nicely.
“FNAF” also knows the audience it’s trying to reach. Much like “The Super Mario Bros Movie”, this film leans into the easter eggs, nods, and references that only the biggest fans will recognize. I’d almost say this lore is more niche than Mario. Fans might enjoy the exclusivity of their games and stories being made just for them. This is a strength because too many movies try to have mass appeal, in turn pleasing no one. That’s not a problem here. While it may not appeal to everyone, it will please those driving the ticket sales. Even the actors emphasized they wanted to make it for the fans. The performances from Josh Hutcherson and Matthew Lillard were pretty good, although I don’t think either gave their best. Perhaps the material they’re given will be better in a sequel?
“FNAF” had a great opportunity to reach a new subset of people. Fans and nonfans alike seem to be curious about the buzz. But unfortunately, I don’t think nonfans will find much intrigue here. For better or worse, the film is formatted for die hards of the game. Knowing the lore surrounding the games and the many nods associated with them seem to impact one’s enjoyment of the film. The filmmakers even acknowledged it is made for the fans. To an extent, I like this. Too many films have suffered from trying to please everyone and missing the mark with the target demographic. I think the Super Mario Bros Movie was more successful in appealing to fans while making it a fun time for those joining casually. Good thing I played through the games and watched the lore videos because I would have been lost otherwise. I hope the next movie finds a better balance at giving us the winks and nods while making a functional film in the process.
I would say “FNAF” is like a Jenga puzzle. There are missing pieces and a flimsy structure, but ultimately the final product is still standing. The film is wildly uneven in many regards. It must have been tough to develop considering the game is as simple as they come. Naturally, the writers had to add subplots and details into the screenplay to make it a feature film. Some of the ideas surrounding the human characters were ham-fisted in, souring the rest of the story. Each character seemed to have some unnatural behavior in some way. Whether it be Mike taking sleeping pills to connect to his lost sibling, his tone-deaf Aunt paying teenagers to create problems for him, or the rogue police officer who has lots of time on her hands…knowing A LOT about Freddy Fazbears. Not much about the character dynamics felt organic. I hope this is addressed when making the next film.
The writing is also quite poor. In fact, “FNAF” has some of the worst lines of dialogue I’ve heard in quite some time. I don’t want to spoil the chuckle worthy moments for any readers but take my word for it…there will be some unintentionally hilarious exchanges between characters. Credit to the actors for delivering these lines without laughing. This makes the performances seem worse than they are. While I don’t think the performances were the best, I would mainly attribute them to the poor writing.
The highly anticipated “Five Nights at Freddy’s” movie has been met with polarizing reviews. Critics seem to hate it while fans are adoring it. Me? I’m somewhere in the middle. I had a good time with it and loved seeing the creepy video game characters come to life. Practical effects really helped the animatronics feel tangible and threatening. But an uneven story, spurts of bad dialogue, and a strange screenplay really soured Freddy’s debut. Fans should definitely check it out in theaters! But all else, I’d say stream it. Hoping the inevitable sequel makes some improvements in the process.