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Five Nights At Freddy’s Review

October 30, 2023 | Posted by Rob Stewart
Five Nights At Freddys Bear Image Credit: Blumhouse/Universal
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Five Nights At Freddy’s Review  

NOTE: Spoilers within for Five Nights At Freddy’s!

I feel like it’s impossible to talk about Five Nights At Freddy’s without also discussing Willy’s Wonderland.

Willy’s Wonderland hilariously beat Five Nights At Freddy’s to film by years, giving us a segment of movie fans who believe that the new Freddy’s movie is a rip-off of the low-budget Nicholas Cage bizzaro flick about his silent protagonist securing employment at a long-closed Chuck E. Cheese’s imitation.

I actually watched Freddy’s with my wife and two other friends who had all seen Willy’s Wonderland, but had never heard of Freddy’s. And I was struggling to explain to them how a movie they all watched years ago was somehow an homage to this brand new movie we were about to watch… not the other way around. It was harder than it should have been, so I’m probably just terrible at explaining things.

I will confess to really enjoying Willy’s Wonderland when I saw it, despite the fact that it’s not a frightfully revered movie. That outing was truly strange, and it had an almost admirable disdain for answering any of the questions its entire premise was going to create within its audience. I respect the balls of that! Why doesn’t Cage’s character speak? Why is he obsessed with pinball, even in the face of his own death? The flick had no interest in telling us!

And aside from that, it was an entertaining enough little romp that I got a kick out of. So how would Freddy’s, the originator of the concept, hold up?

First of all, I want to give credit to Universal for releasing Freddy’s simultaneously in theaters and on Peacock. I have heard horror stories this opening weekend about the audiences in cinemas for the flick, and I truly did not want to replicate by M3GAN experience from this past winter. Simul-releasing is something that seemed to go by the wayside when we as a society decided COVID was over, but–for whatever reason–Universal brought it back here. If for no other reason than saving me from having to see another PG-13 horror film in theater, I am a fan of this decision.

Admittedly, I’m not a Freddy’s aficionado despite being the only one in my watching group who knew the source material even existed. I know of it, and I’ve seen a video or two of folks playing it, but I’ve never sat down and enjoyed it myself. So I’m probably not the target audience for this movie. As much as a mass released, big-budget, large studio movie can have a limited “target audience”.

The story is of Mike, played by The Hunger Games‘ Josh Hutcherson, the adopted parent of his younger sister, Abbey. Mike also once had another younger sibling, but that brother, Garrett, was kidnapped as a small child. This tragedy has completely defined Mike, who believes he can manipulate his own dreams so he can find clues as to who it was that took his brother.

While trying to keep custody of his sister, Mike takes a job at Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza as a late-night security guard. The seemingly easy gig turns mysterious when he discovers the animatronic mascots come alive at night… often with murderous intent.


+ Josh Hutcherson tries his level best here. He doesn’t have the best material in the world to work with (more on that in a bit), but he’s doing everything he can. He maybe doesn’t feel like he is in on the absurdity of everything around him, but the script writes him as a tragic, tormented character. So his winking at the camera and chewing scenery would betray the story. So he takes the movie about mankiller Chuck E. Cheese ‘bots and delivers a moe serious effort than it probably deserves.

+ The animatronic Freddy Fazbear’s gang look pretty good here. There is a design aspect to them where they still look like they stepped right out of the video game, but they pop well on the screen and look very realistic and plausible, too. Whoever is responsible for bringing them to life (no pun intended) showed up to work, that’s for sure.

Some of the dialogue here is about as uninspired as is humanly possible. Even with Hutcherson doing what he can to make the story feel tangibly real, he is actively fighting against a screenplay that is full of tropes and weak spoken words. It’s just painful. And when you get away from him and get into some of the actors not quite performing on his level? The dialogue stands out as even worse. Maybe this is why Nicholas Cage didn’t talk in Willy’s Wonderland.

There is a subplot about Mike and Abbey’s aunt trying to wrest custody of the sister from him, and that story ultimately goes nowhere and means nothing. You could remove that angle entirely and nothing changes. It’s just there to give Mike a reason to take the Freddy Fazbear’s job, but… needing to be employed so you can live is pretty relatable almost across the board. You could just as easily have him take the job so Abbey can, you know, eat and not die.

It’s just a bizarre choice. For the first half, the aunt character is a mustache-twirling villain, then in the second half… she volunteers to babysit Abbey one night without getting anything out of it, and that’s it. Other than that, she vanishes into a plot black hole. I have no idea what the movie was trying to accomplish with this character. Freddy’s is not a short film; it almost hits two hours. It did not need the runtime padding provided by this subplot.

The final score: review Bad
The 411
Overlong and with some abjectly horrible dialogue, Five Nights At Freddy's just can not take advantage of a decent performance from Hutcherson. The story is basically nonsense, which could be more fun if it went the Willy's Wonderland route of base inanity instead of getting lost in a story about abducted and murdered children. Ultimately, the mood is confused, and nothing is even remotely scary enough to just let it pass as "Well, it's a horror flick, so just be scared and enjoy it."