Following their reboot of The Exorcist franchise, Universal and Blumhouse dip into video game adaptations for their second of the 2023 Halloween movie season in Five Night At Freddy's. Emma Tammi directs the film and pens the screenplay with Scott Cawthon and Seth Cuddeback, based on the video game series created by Scott Cawthon.
The film is set in the year 2000 and tells the story of Mike Schmidt (played by Josh Hutcherson), a security guard who is struggling to make ends meet and is responsible for his younger sister Abby (played by Piper Rubio) after their parents passed away. He loses his job as he tries to keep Abby away from their Aunt Jane (played by Mary Stuart Matterson), who wants to take custody of her in exchange for the state cheque. Mike then meets with a career counselor named Steve Raglan (played by Matthew Lillard), who offers him a job as a night guard at an abandoned family diner called Freddy Fazbear's Pizza.
As Mike begins his job, he meets Vanessa (played by Elizabeth Lail), a police officer who warns him that there is more to Freddy than meets the eye. He also gets to know the restaurant's animatronic mascots, including Freddy Fazbear, Chica, Foxy, and Bonnie. As time goes by, Mike realizes that these mascots may be holding the key to a tragedy from his past that he needs to uncover.
As I walked into a partially crowded theater filled with young kids and game fans, it became apparent that I wasn't the target audience for this movie. I have never played the game, and that made it evident that the movie was not made for people like me. However, this is also one of the significant issues with the film.
The backstory for Hutcherson's character in the film does not align with the rest of the story. The studio had another script and combined it with this one, resulting in a lack of clarity. The creators could have fully utilized the premise's potential, such as making it more fun and gory, and they could have created terrifying moments. Although the animatronic figures are technically impressive, they fail to generate enough terror. The combination of absurd puppet theater, obsession, and severe trauma management feels very disjointed. Even though the question of the main villain is a bit listless, the overall effect of the film is still relevant.
The cast does what they can with the material, particularly Hutcherson and Lail, but clearly, vets Lillard and Stuart Matterson are only here for a check. It is not a good thing to say that a film is only for fans, as it implies that the quality of the product is mediocre. The recent hit series The Last of Us can be appreciated by anyone, regardless of familiarity with the video game, as it's well made. Sadly, Five Night At Freddy's is only for game fans.
Final Grade: C-
Five Nights At Freddy's is in theaters now and streaming on Peacock.