*This article contains spoilers and topics of violence.*
Fans have been waiting approximately eight years for the movie adaptation of the hit horror game, “Five Nights at Freddy’s,” or FNAF for short. Since its early release Oct. 26 in theaters and streaming on Peacock, the movie has generated millions of dollars worldwide. It has been met with mixed reactions from fans and critics alike. On Rotten Tomatoes, it is rated just 27% fresh by critics, but a whopping 88% by audience members.
For those unaware, the game the movie is based on takes place in a security office in a supposedly haunted pizzeria called Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza. The pizzeria contains four animatronic stars: Foxy the Pirate Fox, Bonnie the Bunny, Chica the Chicken and, of course, Freddy Fazbear. After midnight, the animatronics are free to roam the building but intend to kill the security guard by attacking him and forcefully stuffing him into an animatronic suit. It is the player’s duty to survive five nights plus two bonus nights by keeping the killer animatronics out of the office using the doors, lights and security cameras. This is re-created in the film when the security guard from the first game, Mike Schmidt, portrayed by Josh Hutcherson, has no choice but to take a security guard position at the abandoned pizzeria in order to provide for his younger sister, Abby, who is portrayed by Piper Rubio.
Since the release of the first game, the community has only grown with the release of more games and spin-offs, due mostly to the hidden story behind the first game that piqued the interests of fans and gaming channels on YouTube such as Game Theory. The creator of the games, Scott Cawthon, has since played into the mystery and dark history behind the Fazbear Franchise. Before the movie’s release, Jason Blum, the producer of the movie, talked about the film on Late Night with Seth Myers and said the movie was solely for the fans.
As a fan of the games who is knowledgeable about the lore, story and theories surrounding the games, the movie was enjoyable and true to the franchise. The animatronics, Foxy, Bonnie, Chica and Freddy were incredibly designed and accurate to the animatronics in the original game. Josh Hutcherson’s portrayal of Mike Schmidt was thrilling and did justice to the character in the game. Matthew Lillard also provided a faithful and astounding execution of the character William Afton, the serial killer of children known as “Purple Guy” in the games who lures children away from their parents using a yellow spring-lock bunny suit and hides their dead bodies in the animatronics themselves, resulting in the possession of the animatronics.
It was refreshing to see such a large company truly listen to a fanbase’s desires and act on the expectations the community sets. For instance, many fans expressed via social media that they wanted the production company to include cameos of the YouTubers who are well known for following the games. Matthew Patrick, or MatPat from Game Theory, had a cameo as a server at a restaurant called “Sparky’s” and delivered his signature line from his channel, “That’s just a theory.” It is also worth mentioning that the end credits song is the original fan-made song called “Five Nights at Freddy’s” by The Living Tombstone which excited many long-time fans.
One drawback of the plot that sparked controversy among audiences was the animatronics being friendly toward Mike’s younger sister, Abby, and no longer becoming a threat as long as they played with her. While many fans defend these scenes as fitting since the animatronics are possessed by dead children and would only naturally act like children as a result, the scenes derail the horror film’s momentum. The animatronics could have been portrayed as childlike in other, more subtle ways rather than subjecting audiences to a fort-building montage in the middle of the haunted pizzeria. Another drawback was the character Vanessa, portrayed by Elizabeth Lail, whose words and expressions did not completely align with her actions. For example, she frequently encourages Mike and Abby to have fun with the animatronics but then threatens to shoot Mike if he ever brings Abby back to the pizzeria.
However, the film is nothing short of entertaining and symbolizes a new age of video games taking adaptations across different forms of media and dominating such forms.
Write to Grace Anderson at email@example.com
Header Photo: This image released by Universal Pictures shows, from left, Bonnie, Freddy Fazbear and Chica in a scene from “Five Nights at Freddy’s.” (Courtesy Universal Pictures)