‘Five Nights at Freddy’s’ best enjoyed by true fans

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Artist statement: This was made by layering several shades of green and yellow paper to make a movie accurate Springtrap.
Artist statement: This was made by layering several shades of green and yellow paper to make a movie accurate Springtrap.
Shelby Neeley

Five Nights at Freddy’s is an absolute cultural landmark for people my age. Originally coming out in 2014, it was an almost immediate success. The massive following it gained only grew with every new release. It was considered to be immensely scary at the time, standing out from other horror games like slenderman.

However, The most popular part of the game seemed to be the mystery. From missing persons posters appearing for brief seconds on the walls to brief flashes of graffiti reading “it’s me,” little clues are scattered in places no one really expected. Although this type of mystery isn’t uncommon in modern days, it was revolutionary for the time. From the 1st game to the 7th, every bit of content was analyzed heavily, and a story gradually developed as we learned more and more details. I vividly remember coming home and racing up to my room to watch the new GameTheory video on FNaF when the second game was announced. The teaser trailer was meticulously sifted through for clues by GameTheory (a YouTuber who created a lot of the hype the games reveled in. He cameos in the movie as a waiter) and the same was done for every bit of media that was released. Five Nights at Freddy’s had an absolute chokehold on me for a good chunk of my childhood, and it seems that chokehold is returning. 

Some may criticize the movie for being pretty lore heavy, but it definitely could’ve been a lot worse, all things considered. The story currently sits at a 27% critic score on rotten tomatoes, but an 88% audience score. It is absolutely a movie meant for fans, with small references to every bit of FNaF media scattered around. 

The movie seemed to be a weird combination of game canon and book canon. The plot of the games is hard to describe, since it was never really planned out, but it mostly follows Michael Afton, the security guard in most of the games, as he attempts to track his vaguely immortal serial killer father to the ends of the earth. The plot of the books is also hard to describe, as there’s about 19 of them that are story relevant, and the book canon is completely different from the games. The movie doesn’t completely follow either of those canons, which is probably a good choice. Still, I’m mildly sad that I didn’t get to see the infamous Bite of ‘87 on the big screen. The story seems to still follow Michael, but the serial killer isn’t his father in this timeline. Instead, we meet Vanessa, the daughter of William Afton, who despises her vaguely abusive father and inevitably teams up with Mike and the ghost kids to kill him. 

Josh Hutcherson was great as Michael. His sad, wet eyes made me feel bad for him the entire movie. From his aunt trying to steal custody of his little sister from him, to his friends getting eaten by Freddy Fazbear, to him reliving the worst day of his life every single night in an attempt to figure out who killed his brother, Michael is in sopping wet cat mode the entire movie, and I do love it. 

Matthew Lillard was perfect as William Afton and even better as springtrap- his smooth motions inside the springtrap suit create an uncanny contrast between him and the other animatronics, who move in a much more robotic manner. I wish he had more screen time- he’s kind of the boogeyman of my childhood and it was great seeing him on the big screen. 

The animatronics themselves were awesome. They’re so cute, and I really wish I could give any of them a hug. They absolutely kill it (Ha) throughout the whole movie. Also, they were created by the Jim Henson Workshop, which means Freddy Fazbear is technically a muppet. 

To be honest, I think the movie absolutely could have been better, but I’m not sure I’d want it to be. FNAF is at its best when it’s campy, slightly scary fun. FNaF could’ve been a great horror movie, but then it probably wouldn’t have been as fun to watch. The movie delivers exactly what its premise promises; dead kids stuck inside robots. What else could you really want? I was grinning ear to ear the entire time, from the Balloon Boy jumpscares to the springlock scene. 

The rating probably depends entirely on how much you liked the games as a kid, but for me it was an 8.5/10. 

 

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