Based on the video game series created by Scott Cawthon, this movie adaptation attempts to translate the popular game franchise for cinema. Still, it needs to catch up when it comes to story development. Going into this screening, I knew little about this game’s lore but hoped the filmmakers would deliver an exciting and fun movie. Unfortunately, this is not the case. The writing of this screenplay needs to develop the game’s lore properly, and on top of this problem, the film comes across as weak and undercooked.
Josh Hutcherson stars as Michael Schmidt, a mall security guard with some demons from childhood that continue to haunt him to this day. These issues lead him to make a rather rash decision when he believes he is attempting to foil a child abduction. Michael has been tasked with raising his much younger sister, Abby (Piper Rubio), and his problems have made it very challenging to maintain custody of her. Given one last chance to keep his employment, Michael reluctantly agrees to a new security assignment guarding a now-defunct pizza restaurant geared towards entertaining children with animatronic animals that perform and interact with the restaurant’s juvenile patrons.
As most fans of the games already know, and those moderately familiar with the games have already ascertained, much more is happening with the animatronic characters, which could pose a violent threat to anyone who crosses them. This movie is a failed attempt at a teen-friendly horror thriller, definitely geared towards the fandom of the game franchise. The main problem is that the writers underdeveloped the movie’s story and could have offered lore that makes sense.
From what I have read about the games, the minds behind them attempt to explain what is happening somewhat logically, but the movie adaptation takes too many shortcuts. The filmmakers hoped that this cinematic introduction to this universe would be sufficient to hook the uninitiated and would further develop the backstory in continuing installments. This plan worked well enough for a video game series but came across as half-hearted for the first movie.
There are plenty of hints at the potential of a better movie. Still, the filmmakers squander these opportunities with a paper-thin plot, evident and predictable outcomes, and no natural gravity and stakes. The cast is fine, but the poor writing gives the actors very little with which to make a compelling case for this story. Five Nights At Freddy‘s will appease the die-hard gamers who had fun with this franchise but fails to win over the audience members looking for a thrilling experience. The movie opens this weekend in theaters and will simultaneously be available for streaming on Peacock. I recommend watching the film on NBC’s streaming service and saving yourself some money.