BY DANNY TULL
BY JENI NANCE
Jeni: When I first saw the “Five Nights at Freddy’s” (or better known as “FNAF”) trailer, I immediately knew I had to see it. The main reason? It stars Josh Hutcherson, who’s been in less than a handful of movies in the past decade.
Over the last few months, I’ve gotten a better understanding of “FNAF” after falling down a TikTok rabbit hole of game lore in preparation for the movie. I wanted to have the most knowledge possible before watching it in order to avoid any unwanted surprises. I’m not a big fan of horror movies, so the idea of watching this film was frightening, to say the least.
The “FNAF” video game is centered around Freddy Fazbear’s Pizzeria, which is similar to family entertainment center Chuck E. Cheese. The owner of the restaurant, William Afton, is a serial killer who murders children and stuffs them into the suits of the animatronics used to entertain customers: Freddy, Bonnie, Chica and Foxy. The children haunt the animatronics and go on their own killing spree, typically targeting the night guards (in the video game) who Afton hires to guard the since-closed restaurant.
The film slightly builds on the original video game storyline but doesn’t really add anything to it. I suppose what I was mostly looking for going into the movie was some sort of closure for the ghosts haunting the animatronics.
Instead, what I watched was basically a retelling of the first game with a subplot featuring Mike Schmidt (Josh Hutcherson) and his little sister Abby (Piper Rubio). The ghosts of these children have this odd obsession with Abby, and Mike has to save her from being killed and turned into a ghost herself.
I was also expecting the film to be scarier than it actually was. Other than a couple of gory scenes and pitiful jump scares, there isn’t really anything that makes it a true horror movie. Despite not being a fan of scary movies, I found that to be a let down.
Overall, I thought the film was put together pretty well but fell short of grabbing my attention. I was constantly waiting for something climactic to happen, but it never did. I probably wouldn’t watch this film again, but that’s not to say I disliked it entirely. If the creators came out with another film, I would definitely watch it just to see where they end up going with the story.
Danny: I went into the “FNAF” movie with very little knowledge of its lore. Like a lot of moviegoers, I only understood the basics of the “FNAF” game: haunted animatronics trying to kill you as you play the night shift security guard at their abandoned restaurant. After watching the movie, I realized that there is a bit more to this story.
The film serves as a heavy commentary on the importance of mental health in regard to childhood trauma. There are several characters in the film that need therapy after witnessing horrific events during their childhood. A prime example of this is the security guard and protagonist of the film, Mike. His persistent effort of trying to make sense of tragic events is something many of us struggle with. Through Mike’s experiences, we learn that things happen that are out of our control.
Mike is struggling to cope with his brother’s disappearance since he was the last person in charge of watching over him.Throughout the film, Mike goes through a journey of searching for the person behind his brother’s kidnapping. Mike dreams about the event every night, and it always ends the same: no answers. That is, until he starts working at Freddy Fazbear’s Pizzeria. The pizzeria has a connection to the other missing kids, who all happened to disappear during their visits to the establishment.
The animatronics of the pizzeria contain the spirits of the dead, kidnapped children. They haunt the suits and eliminate those who trespass onto the Fazbear property. This alone is a horrifying concept, but it’s also sickening to know that their murderer, William Afton (played by “watch the film to find out”). The twist of the film is that Afton is using the animatronics to control the kids after their deaths.
The film cleverly conveys this information to the audience through the animated title sequence. It shows Afton dressed up in a rabbit suit, taking the kids from a party hosted at the pizzeria. Through additional exposition given by a local town cop and ally to Mike, Vanessa (played by Elizabeth Lail). It is revealed in a conversation that Mike and Vanessa have on their way to rescue Abby from the animatronics that Afton took the children and stuffed their bodies, which is why the souls are trapped.
The whole side story of the animatronics origins feels like a metaphor for anyone not capable of representing themselves being exploited. It shows how some companies take advantage of the innocent and naive. In my opinion, it speaks of the horrors of kidnapping and serves as a cautionary tale in an extreme way. On a lighter note, the costumes and puppetry for the animatronics are awesome. The costumes were designed and created by the Jim Henson Company, based on the original design from the video game.
Even though it was not the greatest horror or video game film, “Five Nights at Freddy’s” provides a thrilling adaptation of the source material and doesn’t make the audience feel like they are just staring at a monitor for five nights.