“Five Nights at Freddy’s” is a horror film adaptation of the popular video game series and media franchise created by Scott Cawthon. The games are set in various locations related to a fictional family pizza restaurant franchise named “Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza,” named after its animatronic bear mascot, Freddy Fazbear. Typically, players take on the role of a night-time employee who must use tools like security cameras, lights, doors, and vents to defend themselves against the animatronic characters that come to life and become hostile during the night.
Now, let’s apply this concept to the film adaptation.
Five Nights at Freddy’s tells the story of Mike, a man haunted by a past he couldn’t change. In said past he failed to prevent his brother from being kidnapped. In the present, he has sole custody of his sister, Abby, after his mother died and his father left. A subplot involves a custody battle with his aunt, but her motivations don’t seem to justify the lengths she’s going to. And because there’s no meaningful conversation between the two characters about this issue, she comes across as more of a necessary antagonist to move the story forward.
The sister is an interesting character; she rarely speaks and simply draws pictures. All day, every day. It’s uncertain if she holds any significance beyond being the reason behind his actions. Later in the film, you come to realize she’s akin to a female version of a character from “The Sixth Sense.”
The plot also explores Mike’s job struggles, which are directly connected to the trauma of losing his brother. Although the movie hints at his past, it doesn’t delve deeply into it. The film delves into the concept of dream theory, the idea that dreams can reveal a great deal about our lives and store all our memories down to the smallest details.
As the story unfolds, Mike takes an overnight job at a now-closed Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza. If you’ve never played the game or seen it, think Chuck E. Cheese. At night or when disturbed, the animatronic characters come to life, setting off a series of murderous events. Along the way, we meet a cop named Vanessa, who has a peculiar interest in the place and in Mike.
The movie’s genre is a bit of a puzzle. It’s not clear if it’s for teens, a comedy, a horror movie, or something they are trying to create a new genre altogether. There are some funny moments, but not enough to label it a comedy and the scary parts never fully hit. One of the main issues with the film is its lack of a clear direction. It feels like a blend of childhood fears and a disdain for Chuck E. Cheese. While it has its moments, it struggles to maintain a consistent tone and storyline.
Realism takes a back seat, and the plot necessitates a considerable suspension of disbelief. Accepting the premise of working the midnight shift at an abandoned place with animatronic characters coming to life is understandable. However, when the story shifts these mechanical animals from simple animation to being possessed by the spirits of deceased children without a well-developed backstory or rationale, it becomes less convincing. Adding to the complexity, the sister’s transformation into a central character who communicates with deceased children she has never met before lacks clear development and justification.
“Five Nights at Freddy’s” is a film that may not appeal to everyone. If you’re a fan of the game, you might have a nostalgic connection to it. While it contains elements of intrigue and amusement, it struggles to establish a consistent tone and direction. Its fragmented narrative, lack of realism, and ambiguous elements may leave some viewers feeling perplexed. The film’s concept sounds intriguing as an elevator pitch, but its execution leaves room for disappointment.