Thursday, October 26, 2023

‘Five Nights at Freddy’s’ Review – Cuddly Gateway Horror Goes Light on Scares

Nearly a decade ago, Scott Cawthon’s point-and-click survival game Five Nights at Freddy’s was released into the world and became an instant hit, thanks to its effective jump scare delivery system via killer animatronics and engaging lore. The concept practically begged for a feature adaptation, and so did the video game series’ loyal fanbase. It’s finally here, with Cawthon producing and sharing co-writing duties with Seth Cuddeback and director Emma Tammi to ensure a faithful adaptation. While seeing this world and its killer characters on screen might be enough to appease the fanbase, don’t expect the same level of visceral scares.

Mike (Josh Hutcherson) bears the weight of the world on his shoulders. He can’t hold a job, struggles to care for his 10-year-old sister Abby (Piper Rubio), and is still haunted by his younger brother’s disappearance over a decade ago. That’s before his icy aunt Jane (Mary Stuart Masterson) attempts to derail his life further through greed. With Mike’s chances to turn things around quickly circling the drain, his career counselor (Matthew Lillard) offers him a job with the highest turnover rate: the night security shift at Freddy Fazbear’s Pizzeria. Mike quickly realizes something’s off about the place, and through an encounter with local cop Vanessa (Elizabeth Lail), he finds himself drawn into a strange supernatural mystery that he may not survive.


(from left) Vanessa Shelly (Elizabeth Lali) and Mike (Josh Hutcherson) in Five Nights at Freddy’s, directed by Emma Tammi.

While great care is put into recreating the video game’s world and characters, gone is the sense of urgency that comes with the game’s ticking clock conceit. Tammi bides her time establishing the characters and their conflicts before gently layering in the horror. Things may be deeply amiss at the dilapidated and long-defunct pizzeria, but Mike has a relatively gentle acclimation period as his personal motivation and traumatic past take precedence. That means that the frequent jump scares associated with the games are also mostly gone here.

In its place is an adorable gateway horror movie that showcases the animatronics’ soft, cuddly side, particularly once Abby gets brought more fully into the fold. It’s difficult not to be charmed by Freddy, Foxy, Chica, and Bonnie when they’re in playful mode, and Jim Henson’s Creature Shop did an impressive job bringing these beloved characters to life on screen. So much so that it’s easy to forget these animatronics are supposed to be scary, even when they do kill.

Chica in Five Nights at Freddy's

(from left) Cupcake and Chica in Five Nights at Freddy’s, directed by Emma Tammi.

While the production design and the animatronics may be the most significant assets here, the cast also endears. Hutcherson makes for a winsome lead, bolstered by the adorable Rubio and the sibling bond shared. Lillard makes the absolute most of his limited screen time, and it also highlights the film’s effective blend of comedy and horror. The lore behind FNAF can be grim, but Tammi injects the right among of lightness to balance it.

The simplicity of the story and the emphasis on the human characters’ conflicts means that the pacing is prone to lulls in the nearly two-hour runtime, unhelped by the lack of tension or suspense. There’s no real sense of danger, either, save for the more obvious fodder. That’s largely by design; Five Nights at Freddy’s is meant as gateway horror for younger audiences or the devout fans that’ll appreciate the treasure trove of Easter eggs and references to the game. It’s the type of handsomely made, charming creature feature that’ll play well at slumber parties or rowdy theaters full of obsessed fans, which is precisely its target audience. Five Nights at Freddy’s won’t scare the pants off of seasoned horror fans; the animatronic denizens of Freddy Fazbear’s Pizzeria will likely make you want to hug them instead. 

Five Nights at Freddy’s releases in theaters and on Peacock on October 27, 2023.

3 skulls out of 5

The post ‘Five Nights at Freddy’s’ Review – Cuddly Gateway Horror Goes Light on Scares appeared first on Bloody Disgusting!.


No comments:

Post a Comment

Got any friends who might like this scary horror stuff? GO AHEAD AND SHARE, SHARE!


Some of Scary Horror Stuff's Freakiest Short Horror Film Features!

The latest on the horror genre, everything you need to know, from Freddy Krueger to Edgar Allan Poe.

How Plausible Is It to Have the "Hocus Pocus" Kids Back for Some More Halloween Hijinks?

Potentially very good. See below. It turns out that the announcement is official according to the Carrie Bradshaw of the Sanderson bunch (Sarah Jessica Parker): there will be a "Hocus Pocus" sequel, premiering on Disney+.