I did it! I saw the Five Nights at Freddy’s movie!
Writing it that way… kind of makes it sound like an accomplishment. Which it’s not. Anyone can go see a movie. But this movie has been in production hell for the better part of a decade, so I had a lot of pent-up hype that needed to be let out somehow.
Let’s get the obvious out of the way first: yes, I had an absolute blast watching this movie. It was so tailor-made for insane fanboys like myself that I don’t think I could have disliked it if I wanted to. And on that note: I am an insane FNAF fanboy, so I understand if you won’t just take my word for it. I went into this with a heavy, heavy bias.
All that is to say, I couldn’t tell you if the average person would like Five Nights at Freddy’s. The review aggregates are mixed, and I’m sure that a good portion of the negative reviews are people who just hate horror movies of any type. So, like, most professional movie critics. And my dad.
It’s noteworthy that I’m writing this immediately after getting home from my screening, so the movie is still quite fresh in my mind and I haven’t taken the time to let my thoughts really gel. This is knee-jerk reaction at it’s finest, baby!
So first an foremost, I would like to go over the one thing that I absolutely did not like. There’s a very iconic line in the video games, “I always come back.” It’s spoken by the most iconic character in the series, and gives me a little shiver every time I hear it. Almost every time. It’s not used particularly well in the movie, unfortunately. It feels very forced, and honestly I think it would have been much better omitted and saved for the sequel. It made me a little sad for it to be wasted the way that it was.
But everything else was so good! From top to bottom, Five Nights at Freddy’s the movie is fanservice. Maybe even moreso than The Super Mario Bros Movie, which I feel like is saying a lot because that movie was 90% fanservice by volume. Even better is that all of the fanservice (save the quote mentioned above) was used very well. Well, mostly, anyway. One could argue that “It’s Me” could have been used a little better. Maybe more. But you know what, I was just happy the see it. I giggled like a little girl. In fact, very much like the little girl who was sitting two seats over from me. She was very audibly a big FNAF fan like me, and was very excited to tell her mom every time she saw something she recognized from the games. It would have been annoying if it wasn’t so goddamn adorable. Also, I feel like you can’t really get mad at little kids who talk in a movie anyway. They’re kids. Give ’em a break.
The other thing that I appreciated greatly is that Five Night at Freddy’s was made almost entirely with practical effects. There was a little bit of CG zazz, but most of it was real. And it looked excellent. The animatronics were so big and beautiful and oh, it’s wild to think that I was once terrified of them. The one and only downside is that giant robots aren’t exactly the most mobile at our current technology level, so much to my dismay, Freddy and friends didn’t do a ton of moving. The damn cupcake got an awful lot of screen time, though. Which is weird because it’s largely a non-entity in the games. I’m also not the biggest fan of the Springtrap suit’s design, but again, it looks the way it does out of mechanical necessity, so I get it.
What I think would qualify as a huge win is that Blumhouse did the franchise justice. There was very obviously so much respect for the source material put into the making of this movie, and it’s all the better for it. While this adaptation does, of course, take some creative liberties, it kind of had to. The storytelling in the games is very light and mysterious by design, and that kind of thing doesn’t typically work in mainstream movies. So we get a rough re-telling of the lore from the first three FNAF games (with some sprinkles of FNAF 4), and even with all the changes, it really feels like it’s telling that story from the games. It never feels like someone had a crappy script and then dressed it in a popular franchise to move tickets, like so many other video game movies do.
Also, it was really funny! Which is weird to say about a horror movie that definitely isn’t a horror comedy. But it worked!
So yeah, I liked it. I liked it a lot. Favourite movie of the year? Nah, Across the Spider-Verse was too good. But it’s absolutely a movie that I will buy on blu-ray in the near future, because I already can’t wait to watch it again. And then a third time to go over each individual frame to look for references and easter eggs that I’d missed. And I know I said way up there that I wasn’t sure if non-fans would really get much out of it, but you know what? Go see it! I officially recommend the Five Nights at Freddy’s movie. If I had a seal of approval, I’d stamp it right here —>