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Welcome, World Travelers! Five Nights at Freddy’s is Frightful Fun yet Flimsy

Welcome, World Travelers! Five Nights at Freddy’s is Frightful Fun yet Flimsy

by James Coulter

Welcome World Travelers

Hard to believe that the Five Nights at Freddy’s video game is old enough to be considered “nostalgic.” The children who first played these video games when they were first released are most likely older teenagers at the cusp of adulthood. Man, I feel old now!

What started as a small indie video game has since spawned into a massive multimedia franchise with tons of extensive lore and backstory. So, it only made sense that these horror video games would make for a good premise for a horror movie. In fact, before the official movie, several other knock-off films like the Banana Splits and Willy’s Wonderland copied the concept.

Now that the official movie has been released, does it live up to the hype of the now “classic” video games? Or will this film barely survive the first morning of the first day of the work week?

Five Nights at Freddy’s follows the story of Mike Schmidt, a troubled security guard who’s struggling to maintain custody of his younger mentally challenged sister, especially after being fired from his last job. He’s since accepted a new position working the night shift at Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza, a long-defunct arcade that closed in the 1980s due to “unseen circumstances.”

Five Nights at Freddys

However, upon working his new job, Mike discovers his new workplace is haunted by animatronics that come to life every night. Furthermore, he also learns the haunted workplace may also be connected to a series of dreams he’s been having concerning his younger brother, who went missing on a camping trip years ago. Will Mike solve the mystery and learn who or what is responsible for these creepy circumstances?

So, yeah: if you’re expecting a survival horror flick about a security guard fending off against demented animatronics for an entire night shift until it ends the next morning, this movie ain’t it. To be sure, the iconic haunted animatronics play a role in the film, yet the rest of the movie is a muted drama about a troubled young man struggling to hold a job and custody of his younger sister while solving the mystery of his new workplace and his missing younger brother.

Granted, those elements of the movie are still fairly dramatic and provide a psychological dimension to the movie. One aspect of the story involves Mike having recurring dreams about his past, when his younger brother was kidnapped during a camping trip. These dreams also involve several mysterious children characters who quite evidently have a connection with the weird happenings at Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza.

The scenes involving the iconic setting and animatronics are creepy, as can be expected. The scenes shot at the abandoned pizza place certainly feel creepy and almost claustrophobic like the games, and the Jim Henson Company did an excellent job bringing the animatronic characters to life.

However, where the film falls flat is with the acting. Most of the actors deliver very flat, almost unmemorable performances. As one reviewer quipped, the side female cop character could almost be called “Mrs. Exposition” for how flat her character came across. And as interesting as the non-pizza place scenes may be at offering another existential layer to the story, they do deviate greatly from the moments that made the video games famous.

I’m not going to lie: while watching this movie in the theater, I fell asleep through it twice. It may have been from the overall dull performance, or it could have been from the exceptionally cool movie theater. Either way, it prevented me from fully appreciating this movie.

Overall, if you have children who love the Five Nights at Freddy’s games to the point where they have most of its lore memorized better than their multiplication tables, chances are, they might enjoy the parts of the movie that emulate the look and feel of the game, but their mileage may vary at the other parts of the movie.

Fair warning: this movie is rated PG-13, and while the blood and gore are at a minimum, there’s still a fair amount of blood, gore, and shocking moments, so parental guidance and viewer discretion are advised. However, if the games don’t give your kids nightmares, I doubt these movies will either.

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