PLOT: A troubled security guard begins working at Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza. During his first night on the job, he realizes that the night shift won’t be so easy to get through. Pretty soon he will unveil what actually happened at Freddy’s.
REVIEW: I feel as though I need to state right from the onset that while I’m familiar with the Five Nights at Freddy’s series of games, I wouldn’t call myself a fan. First-person jump scares don’t really appeal to me so I never found myself picking up the controller. Most of my experience is through YouTubers like Markiplier and PewDiePie playing the game. And I’m aware of the rabid fanbase, especially amongst Gen Z. But I’m looking at this as it’s presented to me: as a movie. And as such, it really fails to deliver anything interesting.
Josh Hutcherson stars as Mike, a guy who’s tasked with looking after his sister and can’t seem to hold down a stable job. After getting fired for beating up some random guy he thought was kidnapping a child, he’s forced to work the overnight shift at Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza. And he may just be the most unlikable protagonist of the year. Mike is incapable of doing anything other than sleep, even when he’s supposed to be working. Heck, despite his job being so important that he could lose custody of his sister, this just makes Mike sleep even harder. Because he needs use his dreams to find a bad person from his past. My advice to Mike: maybe care a little more about your sister versus things you can’t control.
I’m not going to really focus on any of the child actors here as the Razzies already proved you can’t criticize thespians under a certain age. I’ll just say that they’re weak and really bring the overall narrative down. Elizabeth Lail‘s Vanessa is a character that the writers don’t seem to know what to do with. Half of the time her presence just seemed to be for exposition and she was constantly contradicting herself. I always enjoy Matthew Lilliard and his scenery chewing, so he was a nice surprise. If anything, he’s one of the only parts that I kind of enjoyed.
When I think of Five Nights at Freddy’s, I think of jump scares. It’s been their bread and butter and all of the trailers seemed like it would be rife with it. While I don’t love them, it’s a reasonable expectation to have. Unfortunately, nearly every single one of them is handled so poorly that they hardly even have an effect. One of the only scares that works happens to be from a completely random and out-of-nowhere moment. And a lot of this comes down to the editing and shot composition, which never manages to please.
There’s been a trend going on in horror movies where a character is set up as truly awful, and then there fails to be a proper comeuppance for them. Whether it’s off-screen or just a glossed-over moment, this is just an unsatisfying thing to do. If you’re going to set up an awful person in a horror movie, that awfulness should be paid off. Instead, there’s not even much catharsis when a character deserving of it, finally gets theirs. Oddly, the character who gets the most violent fate is one that’s morally gray. The priorities are all out of whack. There were times where I even questioned if I was watching a horror movie.
The film is getting a same day release for theaters and Peacock, and maybe that’s the issue. I saw this in theaters and therefore had theatrical expectations. But like many streaming films, I wonder if I’d have been less harsh on this in the comfort of my own home. As is, I was just left feeling very frustrated. The final fifteen minutes are some of the most convoluted nonsense out there, with twist after twist that just explodes the narrative. I’m sure there are going to be a lot of young people that enjoy Five Nights at Freddy’s and finally seeing these characters up on the big screen. But as someone with no connection to the games and a desire for some kind of narrative that makes sense, this just wasn’t for me. It fails to scare, fails to entertain, and fails to set up an interesting world. One night at Freddy’s was more than enough.
FIVE NIGHTS AT FREDDY’S IS IN THEATERS AND STREAMING ON PEACOCK ON OCTOBER 27TH, 2023.