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Five Nights at Freddy's: Movie Review

By Erica Patton

In August of 2014, video game developer and writer, Scott Cawthon, created the infamous Five Nights at Freddy’s, a horror survivor game about a security guard who watches a pizza complex overnight. The initial game brought in well-known gaming YouTubers like Mark Fischbach, also known as Markiplier, and continued to grow in popularity across the gaming community. The series continued, leaving it with 9 official games along with many fan-made games, while fans also implemented their own theories and most importantly: the lore! (Markiplier fans will understand).  

 Movie Poster for Five Nights at Freddy’s  

Credit: Universal Pictures 

After 9 excruciating years, the Five Nights at Freddy’s film was finally released. The movie is an American supernatural film inspired by the popular indie horror game series and has been highly anticipated by FNAF fiends for many years. While the film is advertised as a horror movie, the actual scenes and imagery lack some aspects of scariness as seen in the games and strays away from some of the franchise’s original game story theories. It includes many concepts found within the game’s actual story but ultimately mixes in some non-canon attributes that may hint at theories as well. Though it stays true to some aspects of the actual story, the loosely connected storyline makes the anticipation for this film, well, rather less exciting.  


The film follows Michael (Josh Hutcherson) who lives with his peculiar younger sister and has been left in charge of watching over her as both of their parents have passed. After becoming involved in a physical altercation while at his security job at the mall, Michael finds himself in need of a new job. But with a lack of experience and a short temper, Michael has limited options. He confides in his boss in hopes of finding another job out of desperation, and his boss introduces Michael to a night-shift security job at Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza Place. 


Though Michael quickly realizes that these creepy animatronics in the pizza place have some quirks and come to life at night, this does not stop him from leaving the job quite yet. I mean all he has to do is sit there and watch the cameras, right? Why leave some easy money when you can literally drift asleep on the job? As the movie’s plot unfolds, Michael attempts to understand the connection between his lucid dreams that he has while sleeping on the job, and the mysterious disappearance of his younger brother Garrett, who was kidnapped when Michael was a kid.  


While the film encapsulates the eerie feeling that you get when you go to Chuck E. Cheese (if you know, you know), many fans seemed to be disappointed with the amount of horror actually shown. I will say, as someone who has been a fan of the game series since it was first released, I was also underwhelmed by the harmless jumpscares and weak scariness. However, as a fan, I was especially underwhelmed with how the film attempted to attach many of the game theories and I would have liked it if the movie stayed true to the lore of the actual game.  


Many bits from the entire franchise such as characters, theories, and even books seem to be spread throughout the film in an attempt to compile the main idea of FNAF into one movie. For example, the plot of the movie mainly follows Michael, an original character from FNAF, and police officer, Vanessa, who is introduced in the latest game, Five Nights at Freddy’s: Security Breach. It was hard as a fan to watch the film knowing I was attempting to follow the story of the games along with it, and I found this plot choice confusing. When details about Vanessa’s backstory were revealed, I was even more disappointed.  


First Five Nights at Freddy’s game 

Credit: Microsoft 

It is also important to note that in the original game series, the villain, William Afton, is alleged to have three kids, Michael, Elizabeth, and Crying Child (presumed to be Evan Afton and Michael’s youngest brother). In the movie, however, we learn that Michael’s brother’s name is Garrett. Though the name Michael rang a bell for many fans including myself, the anticipation of the connection between the game and the film was shattered after learning that the two were not implied to be related in the movie. But who knows, maybe if a second movie is made these speculations may become more clear.  


On a more positive note, I think the portrayal of the actual animatronics from the game was incredible. The design of the suits was insanely identical to the depiction of them in the first game and brought that feeling of nostalgia back when I got my first glimpse of Freddy Fazbear. The setting of the pizza place was also very on point with the game as well and had that run down, creepy abandoned look as seen in the games. Despite the mixed connections between the story and the game, the movie itself displayed a very interesting storyline that viewers can easily draw into and enjoy for the most part.  


Overall, I think this movie was an OK attempt at making up for the time between the games and the movie, and I’m honestly even surprised that they decided to make a film for the franchise. If you don’t like to be scared while watching horror movies and like to be creeped out, this movie is probably for you. I will give the filmmakers credit for including as much of the storyline as they did in the movie. Hopefully, they make a sequel to answer our questions and bring clarity to the story that Cawthon dreamed of. While I had the privilege to watch this movie for free through Peacock, many theaters in St. Louis are still showing it today; so if you want to find out more, please go check it out.  


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