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Film Review: ‘Five Nights at Freddy’s’ is a hit with video game fans

Disclaimer: This article does contain spoilers for the “Five Nights at Freddy’s” movie. 

Gamers’ lives were changed Aug. 8, 2014, with the release of the “Five Nights at Freddy’s” video game. After the success of the first game, “Five Nights at Freddy’s” gained a cult following. With all the game’s success came the release of eight more games (with another set to release in November), multiple books, merchandise and now the release of the highly anticipated movie. 

The “Five Nights at Freddy’s” movie has been in production for eight years, and many can agree that the movie did not disappoint. “Five Nights at Freddy’s” lived up to audiences’ expectations through its delivery of the story that fans have been trying to piece together for years through game theories

The movie follows Mike Schmidt, played by Josh Hutcherson, a troubled man who is just trying to care for his younger sister, Abby, played by Piper Rubio. The two actors did an excellent job portraying these roles and brought the characters to life on screen.

This is where the first notable difference is from the games. It is revealed that Mike Schmidt has siblings, which is something that is not mentioned in any of the games. Of course, there is Abby Schmidt, and then there is a sibling named Garrett Schmidt, who was kidnapped on a family camping trip before Abby Schmidt was born. Audiences theorize that Abby Schmidt is the movie equivalent of William Afton’s daughter, Elizabeth Afton, in the games. 

Mike Schmidt has trouble keeping a job to support his sister and sets up a meeting with Steve Raglan, played by Matthew Lillard, to help him find a job. However, the only job that Mike Schmidt is qualified for is a security guard at “Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza.” 

Another difference from the game is there is no “phone guy” in the same way there is in the games. On the first night, Raglan portrays the phone guy, rather than a former security guard. This interaction is then followed by a cheesy 1980s training video that M. Schmidt is instructed to watch. 

As the movie transitions into working nights at “Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza,” watchers are introduced to the animatronics that they know and love. Freddy Fazbear, Chica, Bonnie and Foxy were beautifully created for this movie. The creatures are a combination of animatronics and people in suits. 

The movie also pokes fun at Game Theorists' “dream theory” that surrounds the games. The dream theory is one game theory that the first three “FNaF” games are a nightmare that the crying child has (introduced in FNaF 4). The movie shows a recurring dream that Mike Schmidt has where he revisits the day his brother got kidnapped looking for answers. As soon as he begins working, five children begin infiltrating his dreams, which only leaves Mike Schmidt with more questions.  

It is during the second night that Mike Schmidt meets Vanessa Monroe, a police officer who seems to have some sort of connection to the pizza place. There is a character in the later “FNaF” games named Vanessa who is under the control of Glitchtrap in “Help Wanted” and “Security Breach.” However, in the movie, it is revealed that Vanessa is the daughter of William Afton, which is inconsistent with the game lore that says Afton has three children: Michael Afton, Elizabeth Afton and a third, unnamed child.

Another part of the movie that Scott Cawthon, creator of the “FNaF” world, did not miss out on was the opportunity to embed easter eggs throughout the film. One of the most notable easter eggs is a nod to multiple YouTubers who helped popularize the game. The two most obvious are MatPat and CoryxKenshin. MatPat can be seen as the waiter at “Sparky's Diner,” and CoryxKenshin is the cab driver who takes Golden Freddy and Abby back to “Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza.”  

As the movie progresses, it is revealed that the animatronics are possessed by the souls of five kids who went missing in the pizza place. In the movie, there is a scene where the animatronics help Abby Schmidt, Mike Schmidt and Monroe build a fort. This scene is notable because it helps audiences recognize that the aggressive animatronics are still just kids at heart. 

While the movie did a great job of bringing the games to life, one common critique was that the exhilarating end of the movie was rushed. The end of the movie comes with a series of revelations. 

Raglan is revealed to be William Afton, the murderer of the five children and also of Mike Schmidt’s brother, Garret Schmidt. He enters the pizza place in the famous spring-lock Bonnie suit. The movie also shows the supposed “death” of Afton as the animatronics turn on him. The mechanics of the suit fail, and Afton gets crushed by the suit. In his last breaths, he utters his famous line, “I always come back.” This sets the movie up perfectly for a sequel.   

Overall, this movie did a great job of personifying the games, and the box offices reflect that. According to Variety, the movie brought in $78 million in North America. The movie is set to be the biggest hybrid release for Universal and Peacock. 

The movie is available in theaters and on Peacock for streaming.

Overall rating: 4/5 


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