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The student news site of Cabell Midland High School

The Medieval Times

The student news site of Cabell Midland High School

The Medieval Times

“Five Nights at Freddy’s” Movie Review

Credit: Universal/Blumhouse

Behold: the renowned video-game franchise whose legacy spans back nearly a decade has been developed into a widely anticipated film— “Five Nights at Freddy’s.” And at last, I host the grand privilege of judging the ultimate culmination of the past nine years of teasers, games, books, and countless volumes of lore. How do I feel?



Watching the trailers, I was excited, yet skeptical. It was impossible not to have monumental expectations initially, and I couldn’t help but feel let down from the teaser trailer.

There are two reasons I anticipated the movie to be bad—

Firstly, because of Blumhouse’s association with the movie.

I didn’t want the movie to be botched by their hand—one which has long since fallen from the grace of the horror community.

Dropping horror movies into theaters like they’re dime-a-dozen (they might as well be), the company seems to be motivated by no other virtue than making money.

Blumhouse is the inherent opposite to A24 studios, a less conventionally mainstream company; Blumhouse seems to have designed their business model based on “taking risks” on numerous low budget movies to stay profitable, as opposed to producing other, better developed projects (heaven forbid.) Stylized by the growing popularity of ‘simple’ film synopsis, concepts that are one word/phrase continue to infect film culture: “Fear,” “Night Swim,” “Fall,” “Smile” … etc.

However, when Blumhouse is not shaping original movies from the ground up, the company effortlessly proves that they’re no stranger to destroying the legacy of past franchises: “Insidious 5.”

It seemed as if they’d have no problem this go-around. The trailer didn’t appear to develop any significant narrative. Instead, the teaser idolized the iconography of its notorious animatronics (presumably to attract mainstream attention—money), choosing to focus on their dastardly doings as opposed to that of a central plot.

The trailer was generally confined by the “thrill-less slasher” style of movies which are found in excess in the bargain bin. In an otherwise cardboard-like trailer gleamed the sparkling FNAF trademark, the only factor to induce any wonder.

In short, the trailer seemed more like an advertisement for those who have never heard of the franchise, far from any implication suggesting the existence of a concrete and effectively resonant movie.

Secondly, because of Scott Cawthon’s estrangement from the development.

Cawthon himself lives a very solitary lifestyle and is generally alienated from his fans. Fitting the stereotype of the secluded game developer, many attribute the subtle spontaneity of FNAF’s release schedule to the distance between Cawthon and his fans. This shroud of mystery surrounding his nature serves to bolster the nuance of the franchise.

While it seems Cawthon often chooses to remain ambiguous, as niche and indie as his games and character may be, he leapt at the opportunity to develop his beloved FNAF franchise into a movie.

However, Scott’s role in the movie was reduced to a “co-writing” position after he released a statement back in 2021 stating his retirement from the franchise and detailing potential future aspirations. His tone was sorrowful, but hopeful. Cawthon cited that he had been neglecting to spend time with his family and wished to pursue other more personal ventures.

Regardless, all of these presumptions were ignored before I watched the real movie, with a clear and honest mind.


Spoiler-Free Consensus:

The “FNAF” movie is nothing more than a somewhat wholesome chunk of fan service that exists only to uphold the presumptive expectations of fans as well as the legacy of its own franchise. To those who feverishly follow the games, this is an unoffensive and often entertaining movie; to horror fans and other members of general audiences, the movie is more than disappointing: it’s a clear injustice.


The following is my true review. Of course, there are spoilers. You have been warned.



Let’s begin by examining the “bad,” which, quite frankly, there’s an excess of. I’ve denoted them in points for simplicity’s sake.

1— The first thing I noted regarded the often forced and shallow nature of Michael’s attitudes toward his family. It felt like the movie was trying to develop a “character-driven” narrative in an attempt to evoke sympathy for Mike. However, as frequently he rashly, delusionally, and selfishly alters his motive, it’s difficult to feel bad for him.

Beginning with his pursuit to “save” Garrett, he then shifts to become focused on his brother’s killer: “Finding the guy that did this is the only thing that matters to me. (Mike) When he brings Abby to the pizzeria in an act of reckless abandon, he seeks refuge in his dreams, leaving her to wander Fazbear’s alone, coaxed by a deal to give her up. But just as quickly, he realizes “It was a mistake!” (Michael) and reignites his passion to save Abby once more.

Even the remotely emotional dialogue was too convoluted to be effective—“I love you too, Mike, but we should probably go now.” (Abby)—is muttered amidst the hectic climax of the film, condemning a briefly heartfelt moment to emphasize an unexciting escape.

Other moments of dialogue are just plain stupid and blatantly ignorant: “If you ever bring Abby back here again, I will shoot you.” (Vanessa) In fact, most of Vanessa’s dialogue is so assertively arrogant, it’s almost unbearable to tolerate: “…you’ve been acting suspicious from the moment you opened the door.” (Vanessa) … “…you’re liable. It’s called criminal negligence.” … “I saw your eyes. You were terrified.”

It appears she’s conflicted between wantonly indicting him (tossing the sleeping pills) and “spilling the beans” to warn him: “I tried to warn you. I really did try in my own way. But it’s too late now…” (Vanessa)

2— The second thing I managed to notice acknowledged the movie’s inconsistencies in tone; it failed to embrace outright comedy or horror—that’s two things. The animatronics, now lackadaisical, built blanket forts. The film juxtaposed this in the latter half, where they at length tried to cultivate their demented nature, but by then, it was too late. What resulted was one unscary ‘five nights.’

3—The third thing I perceived poorly was the off-handed way Emma Tammi (director) chose to condense the FNAF narrative. In my opinion, there are many apparent issues with the plot as well as the script.

Out of all of Cawthon’s potential scripts, it appears at long last production shaped the plot synopsis based on the “Mike” script, otherwise known as “the Afton narrative.”

In the games, though often timelines confusingly lapse, this narrative is continually conveyed in the content of various “minigames” and developed by subtle, underlying references in service of indicting William Afton as a serial murderer. In more recent games, fans interpreted a plot conceived by William’s son, Mike, to thwart his father’s adolescent killing spree and reconcile his evils.

However respectively distinct this screenplay may be from the games, not much is known about the “Mike” script itself, yet it was presumed that the story followed a certain “Mike Schmidt.” Despite this screenplay being reportedly scrapped, unofficial confirmation affirmed that this was indeed the script we got.

In my opinion, the director’s adaptation strayed away from the Afton story, as well as his victims’ story in a way that was alternative, but not compelling; the plot didn’t seem fully realized.

The movie’s exposition builds a cast of characters who are inevitably killed off even before the movie’s halfway mark. Cue the deaths of the “goon squad”—the group of delinquents trying to confiscate Mike’s job (or whatever else they can get their hands on) for some unspoken aim—who are developed in service to a growing subplot, which is eventually rendered obsolete.

The innocent babysitter, the covetous aunt and the martyr Garrett are all forgotten. Mike’s ambitions relating to dreams and reconciling the past are abandoned, no longer relevant as soon as the Toreador’s March breaches the loudspeaker.

Not only did the movie stray too far from the narrative, but it also felt too estranged even from FNAF gameplay. Not once did Mike try to shut a door or resort to Freddy’s mask in an attempt to survive; he scarcely even glanced at the cameras.

With the initial campaign slogan “can you survive?” you could’ve guessed the director would have accordingly designed a script supporting elements derived from the games. Instead, the movie forwent stylizing the original “FNAF” gameplay in pursuit of a clear and concise story to appeal to mainstream audiences unaware of Freddy. (I mean, “face saws?” Really, Blumhouse?)

However, this hollowed story is put into vague, and unclarified terms. To make audiences understand, “FNAF” lingo is ‘explained’ away by throwaway quotes. Quotes like “He influences them somehow.” (Vanessa), which oversimplifies the concept of “remnant,” an essence that Michael uses to control the spirits of the animatronics from the games.

Additionally, the whole reason the animatronics “attacked” in the first place (in the games) is because they thought that Michael was William, due to his physical resemblance. But like the flipping of a switch, in the movie, suddenly the animatronics eyes turn red and their hearts sour, for other, less detailed reasons: “They want to make her like them.” (Vanessa)

4—The fourth thing I noticed was the movie’s uneven pacing. Bloated, “filler” (opening kill scene), and unnecessarily lengthy expositional scenes make up most of the movie’s beginning, for essentially what could ultimately be condensed in a much shorter runtime. Unfortunately, this leaves the important moments in the latter half of the movie to be all the hastier, and therefore ineffectual.

The movie certainly would have benefitted from a steady, more ambient pace likened to that of the ‘slow burn’ of the games’ “sit-and-survive” atmosphere.

Instead, the final act of this movie was shaky, rushed and insignificant in the context of the narrative: William continues to pose as the “yellow bunny,” Abby remains in the custody of Mike, the animatronics remain presumably active and all is seemingly forgotten. This “unchanged” character retrospective epitomizes the worst narrative stereotypes and cliches.

And while it would have been nearly impossible to cram as much content in the film to translate all the elements of the “FNAF” storyline in a singular, standalone movie, the ending doesn’t even remotely suggest the direction for a sequel. However, Matthew Lillard purportedly signed a “three movie deal” with Blumhouse regarding the “FNAF” franchise; it’s evident he will “always come back.”

5—Lastly, the movie’s PG-13 rating doomed it from the onset. Much like Sony’s adaptation of “Venom,” both films’ MPA rating severely reduced the visible brutality of their antagonists. While the games themselves are not all that explicit, they still manage to be effectively scary. Given the film’s PG-13 rating, it was essentially conveyed that the movie’s main demographic consisted of young FNAF fans. Even so, being a part of that same demographic, I was just as dissatisfied as the adult critics.


Now, here’s what I think the movie did well.

1—The film capitalizes on a very real fear of having a loved one taken, especially when confronted by uncertainty: Where are they? Are they dead? Are they alive? Sometimes, it can be best to imagine they are gone; it provides a certain comfort as opposed to the opposite—they now belong to another.

2—In the movie’s worst moments, Matthew Lillard does the best with what he was given, and even though he stumbles in playing a convincing “Steve Raglan,” he certainly embodies a threatening “William Afton,” with the screentime he does have.

3—And at last, the sheer amount of shameless ‘Easter eggs’ is enough to make a FNAF fan’s head spin, especially whenever MatPat is introduced, a YouTube theorist whose ruminations were so thorough, his speculation eventually melded with Cawthon’s truth as they shaped the future of “FNAF” lore together.

Although these subtle homages may seem insignificant, I can assure you—based on the sound in the theater alone, you could tell who the “FNAF” fans were.

Noteworthiness aside, however, the culmination of “Five Night’s at Freddy’s” is disappointing, and while it gratifies “FNAF” fans’ patience, to anyone else the sum of parts is no more interesting than other cheap ‘horror’ flicks.



The movie essentially confirmed my worst admonitions about the trailer.

Good media sticks with you, and “Five Nights at Freddy’s” didn’t even stick with me in a bad way. Moreover, it was something I wanted to essentially forget existed; I would rather leave the franchise untarnished. Along with most other modest moviegoers, I accepted that the idea of the movie existing outright is more gratifying than the quality of the movie itself.

But ultimately, these are just my opinions.




Credit: Universal/Blumhouse
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    isaac gibsonNov 17, 2023 at 11:09 am

    woah bro you’re a hard critic