Director: Emma Tammi
Cast: Josh Hutcherson, Elizabeth Lail, Piper Rubio, Mary Stuart Masterson, Kat Conner Sterling, Matthew Lillard
Runtime: 1 hr 49 mins
Rating: PG13 (Some Violence and Horror)
Released By: UIP
Opening Day: 26 October 2023
Synopsis: Can you survive five nights? The terrifying horror game phenomenon becomes a blood-chilling cinematic event, as Blumhouse- the producer of M3GAN, The Black Phone and The Invisible Man— brings Five Nights at Freddy’s to the big screen. The film follows Mike (JOSH HUTCHERSON) a troubled young man caring for his 10-year-old sister Abby (PIPER RUBIO), and haunted by the unsolved disappearance of his younger brother more than a decade before. Recently fired and desperate for work so that he can keep custody of Abby, Mike agrees to take a position as a night security guard at an abandoned theme restaurant: Freddy Fazbear’s Pizzeria. But Mike soon discovers that nothing at Freddy’s is what it seems. With the aid of Vanessa Shelly, a local police officer (ELIZABETH LAIL), Mike’s nights at Freddy’s will lead him into unexplainable encounters with the supernatural and drag him into the black heart of an unspeakable nightmare.
When we first saw the trailer for this movie, we thought it would be a gleeful slasher flick perfect for the Halloween season. Based on the video game franchise of the same name, the premise sees a security guard who takes on the job of a night security guard in an abandoned family entertainment centre.
We know things can get creepy in the middle of the night, but what makes the story even more exciting is that the animatronic mascots have the ability to come alive in the dark and become really nasty. Just imagine the bloody possibilities of these larger than life machines chopping human beings up with an evil grin on their metallic faces.
But we saw that the movie is rated PG13 (Some Violence and Horror) and knew that things won’t go too out of control, possibly because the studio’s priority is still to make big bucks at the box office. What this also means is that this movie directed by Emma Tammi is a family friendly horror movie for kids to enjoy.
The movie’s protagonist is Mike Schmidt (played by a very earnest Josh Hutcherson), a young man who just can’t seem to keep his job. When he is put in a situation where the custody of his younger sister may be taken away by their aunt (who is obviously up to no good), he accepts a job as a night guard in an eerie family diner which has closed down many years ago. As expected, strange incidents involving the animatronic mascots begin happening.
The first video game of the successful franchise was released in 2014, and the objective was simple – as the nighttime employee, players must defend themselves from the animatronic characters with various tools. The filmmakers might have felt that such a straightforward plot would not have worked in this era, so the story’s focus for this first movie adaptation is on Mike’s emotional trauma.
Thanks to repeated dream sequences, we know that the poor guy is haunted by the past. Mike lost his younger brother to a kidnapper when they were young, and the terrible incident has troubled him ever since. He becomes moody most of the time, and relies on medication and sounds of nature to fall asleep at night. It’s obvious that he is suffering from mental distress. It doesn’t help that his parents are dead and he may lose his younger sister.
The 109 minute movie handles the human drama well (kudos to Hutcherson for delivering a sincere performance), but we really wished more time was spent on the animatronic mascots Freddy Fazbear, Foxy, Bonnie, Chica and Golden Freddy. It’s a wasted opportunity, because the character designs by Jim Henson's Creature Shop are awesome, and we would really have loved to see these sinister beings in action. Just imagine the sight of these creatures stomping down the dark alley with their glow in the dark eyes, and cornering victims in a corner before they go on a slashing frenzy.
The movie tries hard to make things logical, and also introduces a policewoman character who conveniently shows up to make the story work. If you are watching the movie to be spooked or shocked, this supporting character is almost unnecessary in the bigger scheme of things. Ultimately, the fright factor is kept to a minimum, and although there are some fatalities, there is no bloodshed and it is a safe movie for kids to watch.
(Freddy Fazbear and his animatronic mascot friends are creepy as hell, and it would have been awesome if we could see them go on a killing spree)
Review by John Li