(Photo courtesy of: IGN) “‘Five Nights at Freddy’s’ answers the question of what if Chuck. E Cheese was haunted.”
“Five Nights at Freddy’s” is a long-running video game series created by Scott Cawthon. The first game was released in 2014 to massive success, and the series now has 13 games total with 29 books and novellas. Oct. 27, 2023, holds the release of the first “Five Nights at Freddy’s” movie.
The main basis of the games and movie is “What if Chuck E. Cheese was evil?” The very convoluted lore and plotline follows a nightguard hired to make sure nothing happens to a pizzeria overnight, and, well, things happen. It is revealed that years ago children went missing and were never to be seen again. It turns out that these children were murdered and stuffed inside the pizzeria’s animatronic suits, which they now haunt, seeking revenge on those who hurt them.
The movie carries a PG-13 rating to appease all of the younger fans of the series. This does not mean the movie is completely clean and not scary, as there are some pretty gruesome scenes sprinkled within the hour and 50-minute run time. Most of the scares come from the jump-scare style the games are famous for, but there is also some blood and gore.
“Five Nights at Freddy’s” offers so much for the eagle-eyed viewers and fans of the games. There are cameos from YouTubers, who helped bring the game series to popularity, and callbacks to the games and book series. Those who keep their eyes peeled can see such foreshadowing in the costume choices and writing shown in the background of some scenes.
Josh Hutcherson stars as nightguard Michael. He absolutely delivers everything this role asks of him, from moments of being completely stunned in fear to showing desperation for closure and answers. He is proving himself to be a truly versatile actor in every genre after his stint as a teen heartthrob in the film, “The Hunger Games.”
Staring alongside Hutcherson is Matthew Lillard, who made a name for himself in horror in 1996’s “Scream.” Lillard takes the role of Steve Raglan, who was not featured in the games. The twist with this character is obvious to longtime fans but packs a punch for newcomers to the series. Lillard uses everything in his acting history to his advantage; his experience in horror helps him to embody this role.
The rest of the cast is made up of many newcomers to the scene and a lot of children. The kids do an amazing job not acting terrified of the giant animatronic suits around them, making it feel like seeing the animatronics is normal for them. Child actors tend to struggle a lot in horror, but the handful of kids in this film completely nail everything that was needed from them.
“Five Nights at Freddy’s” is a movie made for the fans of the game series but offers enough context that those with no experience can still enjoy the film. There are enough scares to make it feel like a horror film but not so much horror that younger fans can’t enjoy watching it. The film is a perfect watch for Halloween or just a way to understand why these games are so popular.
Overall Grade: A