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Wednesday, December 06, 2023 — Houston, TX

Review: ‘Five Nights at Freddy’s’ is a film for devoted fans

Courtesy Universal Pictures

By Hamza Saeed     11/1/23 1:00am


Starting off as a standalone lore-filled game in 2014, the “Five Nights at Freddy’s” franchise has expanded to toys, books and now, a much-anticipated movie. The FNaF empire has now revolutionized both the indie gaming sphere and the internet horror genre as a whole. As a result, the investigative journalists here at the Thresher spent a night at Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza to determine if this film was a soulless cash grab of an adaptation or if Freddy truly had been cooking.

The film follows the troubled Mike Schmidt (Josh Hutcherson) as he looks for another job in order to maintain custody of his sister, Abby (Piper Rubio). After accepting the position of night security guard at Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza, however, Mike begins to realize something is a little off at his new gig — the animatronics get a bit quirky at night. That seemingly innocent quirkiness quickly develops into murderous intent, though, and Mike must protect himself and his sister, all while confronting his past connections with Fazbear Entertainment. 

It is important to analyze this film through both the lens of an esteemed and reputable film critic, as well as a fan of the series. While the movie somewhat stays true to the franchise’s lore, fervent followers of the FNaF franchise may realize that essential parts of the lore have been revised within the film to make it more palatable for general audiences. 

Some continuity issues and plot holes do appear as well, likely from the film’s pacing issues. Extra time is spent on scenes that don’t overly contribute to pushing the plot forward. As a result, the movie springs rather vital (and graphic) information on viewers all at once. Furthermore, a few major plot points are ignored outright. For example, usually, when you’re on the job, you tend to notice giant piles of blood staining the workplace. Mike just mops around them, but honestly, having worked night shifts before, we can’t really blame him. 

Visually, though, this film was a joy to experience. Massive props must be given to the costume design and special effects teams. There is an art in balancing a realistic, live-action look for an adaptation while still being true to the creative design of the original series, and the team behind this film nails it. The designs of both the pizzeria and the animatronics are spectacular. They make you feel like you, too, could find yourself in the situation of being chased around a pizza place by killer robots possessed by the souls of kidnapped children. Hate when that happens, right?

The quality of acting is a mixed bag. Matthew Lillard, of “Scooby-Doo” and “Scream” fame, was great as Steve Raglan, though it would have been nice to see him with a bigger role in the film. Grant Feely, officially listed as Ghost Kid (Blonde Boy), acted his heart out and will no doubt appear in my nightmares tonight. Elizabeth Lail’s performance as Vanessa left a bit to be desired. At times, she seemed to be nearly as robotic as, well, the robots. This could be the fault of an awkwardly written character, though, that mostly hovers over the story as a plot device.

Overall, it still was an enjoyable film. The frequent references to the larger FNAF franchise, strikingly accurate set design and beautiful art direction of the film make it clear that this was a love letter to the fans. However, it must be said that this is a PG-13 horror film that isn’t technically remarkable and still requires viewers to fill in storyline gaps themselves. Despite this, “FNAF” was still a fun watch and one to see if you’ve ever been a fan of the franchise, at least for a dose of nostalgia. Just please don’t touch the springlock suits, okay?

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