The Movie Waffler New to VOD - FIVE NIGHTS AT FREDDY’S | The Movie Waffler


A security guard discovers the animatronic children's entertainers at a defunct restaurant are sentient.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Emma Tammi

Starring: Josh Hutcherson, Elizabeth Lail, Piper Rubio, Kat Conner Sterling, Mary Stuart Masterson, Matthew Lillard

Five Nights at Freddy's poster

Five Nights at Freddy's is based on a cult 2014 video game which has gone on to spawn several sequels and spinoffs. The game had a novel premise: the player takes the role of a security guard battling animatronic children's entertainers in an abandoned once popular pizzeria. It's essentially Westworld in a Chuck E. Cheese branch.

Five Nights at Freddy's review

While Hollywood hummed and hawed over a possible screen adaptation, a couple of indie movies took the idea for themselves. First out the gate was The Banana Splits Movie, which posited the furry stars of the cult psychedelic kids' show beloved by boomer dropouts as similarly robotic creations who malfunction and turn violent. A far better take on the idea was Willy's Wonderland, which made no effort to disguise its influence. That movie gave us the unforgettable sight of Nicolas Cage curb-stomping an animatronic gorilla on a urinal.

There are no such delights to be found in director Emma Tammi's official adaptation of the game that kicked all this off. Tammi's debut, The Wind, was a notably sombre horror movie, so she seemed an odd choice to helm what most of us thought would be a horror/comedy hybrid. The truth is there's very little comedy in Five Nights at Freddy's, which centres its narrative around the laugh free topic of child abduction, an idea introduced in a later instalment of the video game franchise as though inspired by the far right "pizzagate" conspiracy.

Five Nights at Freddy's review

Josh Hutcherson plays Mike, who finds himself taking the job of overnight security guard at the dilapidated Freddy Fazbear's Pizzeria. There's an awful lot of setup to get Mike into the establishment, with a subplot that sees Mary Stuart Masterson play a wicked aunt who wants to take Mike's kid sister Abby (Piper Rubio) away from him. Mike and Abby's parents both died having long been haunted by the abduction of Mike's younger brother Garrett. Mike has spent his life obsessing over the events that led to his brother's kidnapping, and he's come to believe that the key to solving the case lies within his dreams. He has a set routine of taking sleeping pills, listening to a cassette of nature sounds and staring at a "Welcome to Nebraska" poster pinned to his ceiling in the hopes that he can find answers in his subconscious, Inception style.

What does any of this have to do with evil animatronic furries? Well, it gets there eventually as a backstory is unveiled in laborious fashion over the movie's bloated 110 minutes run time. Anyone expecting Chuck E. Cheese's Chopping Mall will be sorely disappointed at the lack of splatstick action in this ludicrously serious take on a very silly concept. To keep the rating down to PG, there's an almost complete lack of gore. All of the kills occur offscreen, save for one which, in Jurassic World style, is saved for a character who really doesn't seem to have earned such a cruel fate. A lot of energy is spent crafting a mystery around a series of child abductions, but the villain responsible is so heavily foreshadowed that their eventual Scooby Doo unveiling is redundant. The climactic revelation will have you doing sums in your head to figure out how certain characters could have been a specific age as far back as the 1980s.

Five Nights at Freddy's review

Hutcherson is an amiable presence and his chemistry with Rubio is very cute. Masterson is having fun chewing scenery as a live action Disney villain, and the subplot around her attempts to prise Abby away from Mike is the film's strongest aspect. But is anyone watching a Five Nights at Freddy's movie to see a custody drama?

Five Nights at Freddy's
 is on UK/ROI VOD now.

2023 movie reviews