Five Nights at Freddy’s is a real scream for fans

FIVE NIGHTS AT FREDDY'S, from Universal Pictures and Blumhouse in association with Striker Entertainment.
FIVE NIGHTS AT FREDDY'S, from Universal Pictures and Blumhouse in association with Striker Entertainment. /

The long awaited Blumhouse adaptation of the iconic hit video game Five Nights at Freddy’s has been released after a long cycle in development hell. Now as people crowd into theaters and log into Peacock one question remains… is it worth the wait?

The film follows Mike, a down on his luck guy bouncing from job to job while taking care of his younger sister Abby. Mike enlists help from a career counselor and lands himself a job as a security guard for the long defunct Freddy Fazbears Pizza, a place once known for childhood fun back in the 1980s now shutdown due to a series of children going missing.

The film is based on the 2014 horror game of the same name, as well as its many sequels, prequels, spin offs and book adaptations. With a history like that, it’s interesting to see how it can be explained in one hour and forty minute film. Spoiler alert… it isn’t.

While lots of liberties are taken with the expansive story of the games in service of wrapping the film up into the package of one marketable film, the plot still feels as concise and cohesive as it could be given its convoluted source material. Though it may be a swing and a miss with some mainstream audiences unaware of the games, it certainly gives fans a feast of easter eggs, references and call backs (or maybe call forwards if we get that sequel). Hell, as a fan of the games myself I found it enjoyable and was actually relieved at certain story beats being left behind in service of a more narrow plot (never say never though).

Matthew Lillard in Five Nights at Freddy's
Five Night’s at Freddy’s © 2023 Universal Studios. All Rights Reserved. /

The various departments of the filmmaking process of Five Nights at Freddy’s all pour their care into the project, and it bleeds through the screen. One of the standouts of the film are the magnificent animatronic puppets from Jim Henson’s Creature Shop, who bring the iconic characters of the game to life in an eerie nearly 1:1 recreation. I also found myself really enjoying the film’s musical score composed by the Newton Brothers as well as the many of the scenes lighting and cinematography. Another standout is the set design, brining the first games iconic location from game to screen so fluidly.

Josh Hutcherson is the soul of the film, playing a struggling but well meaning and damaged protagonist so well its impossible to not route for him. Meanwhile Piper Rubio as Abby is the heart of the film, bridging the films inherit horror the deep childhood wonder the story holds. Elizabeth Lail plays Vanessa, while her character is written with more exposition dumping than I would’ve preferred (I get it though, this story is complicated enough), Lail does a serviceable job and really rides the emotional roller coaster as her character evolves through the tight runtime of Five Nights at Freddy’s. Finally Matthew Lillard absolutely kills it in this role; without going into spoilers he absolutely dominates every scene he’s in, as expected from a seasoned genre actor such as himself. While he is used more sparingly than I would’ve liked (because you can never have too much Matthew Lillard) every second of his screentime is enjoyable.

One often overlooked aspect of this film is the fact that this will be stand the test of time and be a fun piece of gateway horror, the film kids will put on at sleepovers to get scared. This film will be some kids first taste of the forbidden fruit of horror, and that’s a wonderful thing.

Overall, Five Nights at Freddy’s is a feast for fans and visual powerhouse and while more casual audiences may be left scratching their head at times it will certainly leave moviegoers entertained. Jason Blum, Emma Tammi and the rest of the cast and crew pulled the rabbit out of the hat for this one doing what so many thought was impossible especially in such a fun and satisfying way.

What did you think of Five Nights at Freddy’s? If you haven’t definitely try and catch it in theaters or on Peacock, and if you have let me know your thoughts! If you enjoyed reading this review, check out some of my other articles and feel free to follow me on my social medias such as Twitter (JacobAtTheMovie), Instagram (JacobTheHarper), Facebook (JacobTheHarper) and Letterboxd (JacobTheHarper)

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