The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

Five Nights at Freddy’s: A movie for the fans

Five+Nights+at+Freddy%E2%80%99s+animatronics+Foxy%2C+Chica%2C+Freddy+and+Bonnie+at+Freddy+Fazbear%E2%80%99s+Pizzeria.%0A
Via Universal Studios
Five Nights at Freddy’s animatronics Foxy, Chica, Freddy and Bonnie at Freddy Fazbear’s Pizzeria.

With a devoted fan base and countless game theorists who have sought to unravel the untold lore of the Five Nights at Freddy’s (FNaF) video game series, the franchise’s near decade-long popularity still runs steady. 

The release of the FNaF horror film on Friday, October 27, 2023 is a remarkable addition to the media franchise that continues FNaF content releases. Despite the beloved characters Freddy the bear, Chica the chicken, Bonnie the bunny and Foxy the fox bringing excitement within the fandom, other viewers couldn’t help but question why the movie wasn’t meeting their horror-filled expectations. 

The FNaF movie trailer was highly criticized by video game fans upon its release, as it lacked the jump scare horror technique (characterized by the unexpected, startling appearance of a scary sound or image) that was imminent in the video game. The official FNaF Reddit community, r/fivenightsatfreddys, was filled with complaints that the reenactment of the FNaF animatronic characters felt corny, and simply not scary.

One widely criticized moment of the trailer was the animatronics’ bloodshot red eyes, which are not a trait they have in the game series. 

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“The red glowing eyes takes away from the creepiness factor [the animatronics] had with the deadpan looks they tend to have in the games,” Reddit user Bioshocker101 wrote.

Still, fans didn’t give up their hopes. Analysis compilations of movie sets taken from the video game’s iconic Freddy Fazbear’s Pizzeria setting were spread all over FNaF social media communities, and excitement for the movie persisted. 

Though most people expect to be scared while watching a horror film, the FNaF fandom was most interested in seeing one thing: snippets of the game’s iconic lore, which was written by FNaF franchise creator Scott Cawthon. Cawthon is credited as a producer and writer for the movie.

As expected from the trailer, the movie diverges from the game’s main plotline and takes a unique twist on the series, but still implements some of the same characters, settings and scenes from the video game, such as the protagonist crawling through vents and working as a night security guard.

Mike Schmidt, the main protagonist of the movie, takes a job as a night guard at Freddy Fazbear’s Pizzeria to support his younger sister, Abby. Like the first FNaF video game, Mike tries to “survive the night” during his shifts, while monitoring the pizzeria’s animatronics in case of suspicious activity.

In contrast to the trailer, more fans expressed satisfaction with the film; despite lacking anticipated reenactments of in-depth game lore, it was still surreal for long-term fans to see FNaF’s animatronic suits in real life. Cameos of popular Youtubers were also raved about, such as the gaming Youtuber CoryxKenshin, who played a taxi driver.

Countless memes (expectedly) arose from the movie, too — one in particular that spread rapidly was a clip of the gaming Youtuber Markiplier exclaiming with his mouth wide open: “Was that the Bite of ‘87?!” in reaction to a woman getting half her body eaten by the animatronic Foxy, a reference to a famous reaction video of his.

The mini easter eggs enjoyed by those knowledgeable with the FNaF series were left mostly unnoticed by general watchers, who nevertheless admired the actors and the visual effects of the animatronics, but also judged the film’s storyline as “predictable” and “mediocre.”

Critics were also quick to point out the unexpectedly un-scary nature of the movie, considering the franchise’s reputation of having frightening character designs and heart-racing gameplay. Some even questioned if the movie even belonged to the horror genre. 

“What should’ve been an intricate, twisted and absurd treat is demoted to generic horror movie sludge,” The Independent film critic Clarisse Loughrey said. “What’s missing, however, is the real key to the Five Nights phenomenon: Cawthon’s breadcrumb trail of lore.”

Some viewers argued that the movie’s PG-13 rating limited the scare factors that critics long for the most, since persistent, realistic violence and gore might cause the film to incur an R rating, according to the Motion Pictures Association. Director Emma Tammi reported to Forbes that the team chose to stick with a PG-13 rating partly because it’d also be more inclusive to a younger audience.

However, others claim that even a PG-13 movie can still include suspenseful, thrilling moments that make horror movies horrifying for all age groups. 

“Even with more violence, Tammi would still struggle to create the suspense we need and expect,” The Guardian critic Benjamin Lee said.  “Her film never once threatens to quicken one’s pulse.”

The critiques that the FNaF movie received are not surprising; it’s a well-known fact that video game film adaptations are rarely good. Other video game movie adaptions such as Uncharted and Assassin’s Creed were not received well, with similar criticisms regarding a lack of adherence to the game’s original plot; most producers miss the mark when trying to develop the interactive nature of a video game into a pre-scripted movie.

Though Cawthon was involved in producing and writing the FNaF movie, likely generating the exciting easter eggs for fans to fixate on, the production team’s mistake was trying to appeal to a more general audience with a new storyline.

Nonetheless, there may be another chance for the production team to meet expectations, and more for fans to anticipate; the potential of FNaF movie sequels, which were suggested by Tammi.“We’re definitely excited to keep making more [FNaF] movies in this world, should we be lucky to do that,” Tammi reported to Variety. This one was tied into the first game, and we would probably focus on tying the second one into the second game. But anything could happen. We’ll have to see.”

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Ashley Tumacder, Staff Writer

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