“Five Nights at Freddy’s,” or FNAF finally hit cinemas on Oct. 27, 2023 after almost a decade in production hell. FNAF went through three directors, two studios and two scripts in this film adaptation of the insanely popular indie horror game.
For all their trouble, FNAF opened to mostly negative reviews from critics and a variety of lukewarm to outstanding reviews from fans of the franchise. Averaging a 5.5/10 on IMDb, a 30% on Rotten Tomatoes and a 2.6/5 on Letterboxd, FNAF really begs the question, is this worth your time?
The plot centers around Mike Schmidt, played by Josh Hutcherson, who is very much down on his luck. He can’t hold a job and is stuck caring for his younger sister Abby, played by Piper Rubio, who doesn’t seem to like Mike much. Mike learns his lack of consistent employment could cost him the custody of his sister, so he decides to take a job as a night shift security guard at a run down “Chuck-E-Cheese” style pizzeria.
I have been a fan of the franchise since its inception, yet I find FNAF very much a mixed bag. While I somewhat enjoyed the film, it suffers from a lot of shortcomings.
The story is a bit lackluster, there are a few moments of really forced plot convenience and there were a lot of exposition dumps that didn’t need to happen or could have been done in different ways.
Fans of the original series’ lore might also be disappointed to find the film does not exactly follow the story from the games. The movie is heavily inspired by the game, but creative liberties have been taken for better or for worse.
Hutcherson gives a solid performance, however, and the animatronic designs created and provided by the Jim Henson Company look absolutely stellar.
This film is an absolute must-see for those who grew up with the franchise, but as a movie could have definitely been better.
The film major in me almost wants to tear this to pieces, nitpicking every minute detail of it from the script to the framing to how it was edited. There is so much wrong with this movie, its accuracy to the games in both tone and plot can be good at times and absolutely horrendous at other times.
But I honestly can’t hate it. As a culmination of almost a decade of an internet subculture, a product of all those hours I and many others spent in-game, on the developer’s website and on YouTube trying to find hints towards the story way back in 2014.
It is an authentic, heartfelt letter of admiration towards you, the player. When I sat down in the theater, the energy was absolutely palpable, both from the audience and the film itself. Passion and care was oozing from every single frame from start to finish.
As the credits rolled and The Living Tombstone started playing, it was clear to me that this was an absolute work of art. I would dare to even call it cinema. Is it perfect? Absolutely not. Is this movie for everyone? Of course not. It’s a movie by FNAF fans, for FNAF fans. It set out to deliver something for them, and it damn near perfected that.
Alan Key is the Managing editor of The Express. Follow him @Alankt_jpg on X.