Five Nights at Freddy’s proves why many game-to-film adaptations typically don’t work out. Reception of the film directed by Emma Tammi depends mostly on the background knowledge of the audience. The disparity between current critic versus audience ratings on Rotten Tomatoes tells the story alone.
Five Nights at Freddy’s follows down on his luck Mike Schmidt (Josh Hutcherson), who is in danger of losing custody of his little sister. Having been fired from multiple jobs, he takes on a night security job at an abandoned children’s pizzeria as a last resort. The pizzeria contains a band of animal animatronics that the security guard soon finds can do much more than just sing.
The film was adapted from the viral video game series created by Scott Cawthorn, who was also a producer and screenplay writer for the film. The series has gained a cult-like following, especially from fans of the YouTube gaming community for playthroughs from very prominent YouTubers such as Markeplier and CoryKenshin.
Five Nights at Freddy’s is a fun movie, but as a horror movie, it couldn’t be further from frightening. Horror movies are known for their jumpscares, you likely won’t find one without them. The issue is it’s hard to be scared by the murderous animatronics when they look so unthreatening, and the cheesy sound effects don’t help.
This movie is perfect if you’re a fan of the video game, it includes many references and inside jokes that fans are sure to catch, and seeing the characters from your favourite game come to life on your screen is a great experience. A fan would already have a connection to the material and an understanding of the concept. On the other hand, a person who does not know the game would likely not enjoy this movie as much, because as a stand-alone horror movie, it feels a bit silly.
One thing this movie does right is the comedy. There were a few corny jokes, but the audience laughed out loud much more than expected. Assumedly, a lot of that has to do with the great chemistry between Mike (Hutcherson) and his younger sister Abby (Piper Rubio). Despite Mike acting as a father figure in Abby’s life, they still kept up what seemed like a very believable brother-sister relationship.
Josh Hutcherson most famously known for his role as Peeta Mallark in The Hunger Games (2012), is the shining star of this film. In spite of the strange source material, Hutcherson gives a raw performance that suggests he put his all into it. Part of the plot focuses on Hutcherson’s character dealing with past trauma involving his younger brother’s kidnapping. Hutcherson’s heartbreak and regret is beautifully displayed. Supporting cast Elizabeth Lail and Matthew Lillard do great in their roles as well, and it’s clear within the main cast that acting isn’t an issue with this movie.
Despite its lacklustre scares, this would be a great film to see if you’re familiar with the game and its background story, or if you’re just looking to have a fun night with friends.
Five Nights at Freddy’s is playing in Cineplex theatres now.