Movies based on popular video game IP’s have been showing signs of improvement in recent years but sadly Emma Tammi’s new adaptation of Five Nights at Freddy’s is sadly a step backwards. What should have been a vibrant horror film led by a quirky Freddy Fazbear and his crew of murderous animatronic mascots inside a twisted version of a “Chuck E. Cheese”, was instead a monotonous journey of a man dealing with the loss of his brother. Visually the look is certainly here. This gang of furry killer animals are brought to life with awesome detail and from slight movements to the creepy leer of their dead eyes, they are effectively frightening. So, Five Nights at Freddy’s certainly builds an appealing atmosphere of looming dread.
After a quick, suspenseful taste of the deadly mascots in action to open the film the story suddenly veers into the monotonous exploration of Mike’s (Josh Hutcherson) grief from his little brother being kidnapped years earlier. It’s a simple story wrinkle that will certainly tie in somehow with the nights spent inside “Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza” so seeding this torment for our lead is expected. Unfortunately, the film spends a shocking amount of time meandering in Mike’s dreams as he tries to piece together what happened that fateful day. This, added with even more time spent capturing Mike’s down on his luck life while trying to raise his little sister only further pulls this movie from the entire purpose of its existence, the killer mascots.
The progression sprinkles little teases of the horror that’s to come to bait the viewer, but it takes its sweet time as character exposition drags the story forward. By the time the violence does kick in it’s a bit too late, a bit too sanitized, and lacking charisma. Ultimately, it’s all a letdown after sitting through a movie that takes itself way too seriously in telling a story that isn’t all that compelling to begin with. The performances are fine, young Piper Rubio as Mike’s little sister Abby delivers the film’s best (and most likable) performance. Hutcherson is decent at best, but far from the energetic lead this movie needed. While Elizabeth Lail as Vanessa, a local sheriff whose motives you can see coming a mile away, is also serviceable in her role.
Five Nights at Freddy’s was supposed to be a fun, delightfully demented film about a group of murderous puppets killing people inside of a pizza restaurant. But for some reason it deflates all the energy in the air with its slow pace and thin story layers that take precedence over its titular character. This movie has a few cool sequences, but not enough to make it worth watching and if you are looking for a movie like this, then Nicolas Cage’s recent romp Willy’s Wonderland would be the far superior choice.
CAST: Josh Hutcherson, Piper Rubio, Elizabeth Lail, Matthew Lillard, Mary Stuart Masterson, Kat Conner Sterling, David Lind, Christian Stokes, Joseph Poliquin DIRECTOR: Emma Tammi WRITER(S): Scott Cawthon, Seth Cuddeback, Emma Tammi, Chris Lee Hill, Tyler MacIntyre DISTRIBUTOR: Universal Pictures RUNNING TIME: 109 minutes RATING: PG-13 (For strong violent content, bloody imagery and language) YEAR: 2023 LANGUAGE: English GENRE: Horror/Thriller
Anthony J. Digioia II © 2023 SilverScreen Analysis