After 8 and a half years, the live action adaptation of ‘Five Nights At Freddys’ is here!
I have followed the game’s journey from the very start, way back in 2014, and have played all the games as well as consumed the books and, of course, the fan theories. But it also means that the journey the film adaptation has taken to get to this point is something I am very familiar with. From its start with Warner Bros. to its transfer to Blumhouse, it’s been a strange and rocky one. And yet, this only increased my excitement as the countdown to the film’s release finally started. But has it been worth it after all this time?
Based on the popular horror game franchise, the film stars Josh Hutcherson (The Hunger Games, Future Man) as Mike Schmidt, a man who accepts a job as a security night guard at the long-abandoned Freddy Fazbear’s Pizzeria. But the place is discovered to be less than dead as the animatronic characters that inhabit the building will make sure that this is a night to remember.
The story will surely divide fans, but ‘Five Nights At Freddys’ is a fun film that serves as a love letter to the franchise. When adapting certain properties, care has to be taken to both accurately represent it for the fans, as well as making it approachable for newcomers. And, when approaching a game franchise that revolves around complicated story details and lore, sometimes that storytelling has to be simplified to appeal to all audiences. Which, in the case of ‘Five Nights at Freddys’, is exactly what has happened. The adaptation both takes the story of the first game and elements from the 2015 book ‘The Silver Eyes’ to help navigate through its plot, and it works very well. But some changes are made just to keep the fans on their toes. While the changes might seem odd to fans (especially when this franchise likes to reuse names a lot!), they made sense within the film. Plus, with the film having to be within its own universe, the simplified storytelling was the best way to adapt the game, and it worked really well.
The acting and cast were fantastic; Josh Hutcherson was good as Mike and did well to carry the film. He’s someone who has been beaten by life tragedies including the kidnapping of his younger brother, something that he blames himself for. While it’s cliché to have a character like this, it works here and helps further the plot. But his relationship with his sister Abby (Piper Rubio) was what stood out the most. Not only was she important to the story too, but she was fantastic and her relationship with her older brother was convincing. Another standout was Elizabeth Lail (You, Countdown) who plays police officer Vanessa, who is also drawn back to the abandoned pizzeria.
She gives a fantastic and, at times, emotional performance as she continuously returns to the strange restaurant. But she also adds mystery, as she slowly reveals more and more exposition to Mike, that really keeps the viewers guessing her true intentions. And, of course, Matthew Lillard (Scream, Scooby Doo) as the franchise’s villain William Afton. Taking some influence from his horror roots in the 1996 classic ‘Scream’, he is fantastic as someone who starts out seemingly caring, to a terrifying menace once his true intentions are revealed and it is wonderful to see. Being a career counsellor for Mike, he first appears friendly and caring and it’s convincing; there wouldn’t be any doubt that there would be another motive. But the way he switches to who he truly is is incredible to watch, especially when it comes to the reveal sequence. The entire cast was perfectly chosen and fit into their roles beautifully.
But the spotlight should, of course, be shone on the main animatronics: Bonnie the rabbit, Chica the chicken, Foxy the pirate fox and Freddy Fazbear. With the Jim Henson Creature Shop behind the costumes and puppetry of the animatronics, it was always ensured that the portrayal of these characters would be in safe hands. But seeing the four come to life onscreen was amazing. The designs of the characters are completely accurate to the games, and they were perfect. The pizzeria also looks completely accurate to the games as well. And it’s not just the basic decorations or the design of the security office that made this film a treat to see, but also the references…and there are a lot! With the games’ creator Scott Cawthon heavily involved, a lot of care and love has been placed here, to please fans. As a huge fan, seeing the location, animatronics and various references to the games, and even books, come to life on the big screen was truly a treat.
But ‘Five Nights at Freddy’s’ does suffer some pacing issues that lets the movie down a little. While the third act is consistent, the previous two acts are uneven. However, the slower scenes are used for character development, mainly between Abby and Mike, and Mike and Vanessa. Because Michael hardly has any personality or dialogue in the games, aside from one monologue, the film utilises the time in the middle to develop Mike’s character. While these scenes are necessary and needed for the story, these slower moments should’ve been spread out more to even the pacing.
Despite this, ‘Five Nights At Freddys’ is a fun and enjoyable adaptation. While the film does suffer some pacing issues, the story is written in a way that is easy to follow, making it recognisable to fans but accessible to newcomers. And, while it may not be continuously scary, it does keep up the tension very well and even has some great jumpscares, even if fans know what to expect with the franchise. Overall, ‘Five Nights at Freddys’ was definitely worth the wait and is a fun film as well as a fantastic love letter to the franchise and fans that helped it grow.
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