Five Nights at Freddy’s

Verdict: Five Nights at Freddy's is an overcomplicated and dull horror that is not very scary at all

  • Matthew Lillard, Josh Hutcherson, Elizabeth Lail
  • October 27th 2023
  • Emma Tammi

A night-time security guard must survive his shifts at an abandoned pizza restaurant filled with murderous animatronic mascots.

FNaF fans, rejoice! It has taken nine years, but the movie adaptation of the Five Nights at Freddy’s video game series has finally arrived.

Josh Hutcherson stars as Mike Schmidt, a troubled security guard who accepts a job at Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza, a family entertainment centre that was shuttered in the ’80s after several children went missing.

Mike soon realises why the job has a high turnover; the restaurant’s animatronic mascots – Freddy Fazbear, Bonnie, Chica, and Foxy – become hostile during the night.

Five Nights at Freddy’s should have been a simple, straightforward horror set in one location with Mike going up against the murderous robots. But instead, we get a convoluted, messy story that is not remotely scary.

Because director Emma Tammi and co. wanted a PG-13 rating in the U.S. (it’s a 15 in the U.K.), the film cuts away before we see any violence or gore. We hear the killings and see some of the aftermath but we don’t see the actual act.

However, there is still a chilling atmosphere inside of Freddy’s, there is a sense of dread and suspense, the robots are very creepy and there are a couple of jump scares (a big feature of the game).

The concept is quite ridiculous so Tammi could have leaned into that and made it a horror-comedy but there are no laughs to be found.

The film spends too much time on Mike’s traumatic backstory, his battle to keep custody of his sister Abby (Piper Rubio) and his dream sequences, where he communicates with the missing children.

This was a bizarre choice and it was a mistake to spend so long outside of Freddy’s.

While the desire to expand the Mike character is admirable, it means the narrative is bogged-down, over-complicated, drawn-out and all over the place.

However, fans of the video game should be pleased with the visuals and the Easter eggs. The mascots and Freddy’s set – particularly the security guard’s office – have been replicated in painstaking detail and the animatronics are very cool.

Five Nights at Freddy’s is not the straightforward horror it was sold as in the trailer. There is too much drama and not enough scares.

In cinemas from Wednesday 25th October.

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