‘Five Nights at Freddy’s’ unmasks nightmares on the big screen


4.5 out of 5 stars 

“Welcome to Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza. A magical place for kids and grown-ups alike, where fantasy and fun come to life. Fazbear Entertainment is not responsible for damage to property or person.” 

After 13 games, hundreds of books and hours of YouTube and streaming content, the “Five Nights at Freddy’s” movie fulfills childhood wishes and, admittedly, nightmares.  

As a child who grew up watching hours of Markiplier, MatPat and Dan and Phil Games, the Five Nights at Freddy’s movie transforms the familiar scares and suspense into a cinematic spectacle, allowing fans to experience the chilling thrills of Freddy Fazbear’s world in a whole new medium. 

At the start of the film, Mike Schmidt (Josh Hutcherson), is a troubled man haunted by the decades old kidnapping of his younger brother, Garrett. Fired from his previous job, Mike seeks work elsewhere in order to keep the custody of his younger sister, Abby (Piper Rubio). Reluctantly, Mike agrees to work as a security guard at Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza Place, an ‘80s family establishment reminiscent of Chuck E. Cheese’s, after the persistence of employment officer Steve Raglan (Matthew Lillard).  

While seemingly unassuming to newcomers, longtime fans will know Raglan by his real name: William Afton, the original owner of Freddy’s. The restaurant also provides musical entertainment via four spring locked animatronics, Foxy, Bonnie, Chica and Freddy Fazbear.  

While on the job, Mike meets Vanessa Monroe (Elizabeth Lail), a beat cop whose route includes Freddy’s. Under her guidance, Mike learns the animatronics are not controlled by power, but instead by the ghosts and bodies of murdered children. With the help of Abby and Vanessa, Mike Schmidt defeats the animatronics and their “puppeteer” William Afton.  

“Five Nights at Freddy’s” is a movie filled with camp and childlike humor. Long time fans of the franchise will be delighted to see their favorite characters, such as Carl the Cupcake, as well as iconic taglines like Springlock’s “I always come back.” 

This will not be an Oscar winning movie, and it doesn’t want to be. This movie was made for the wish fulfillment of Scott Cawthon, the creator of the FNAF games, and his fans.  

Die-hard horror fans will be disappointed. Aside from one moment when an animatronic bites a character in half, the jump scares come off as cheesy, but they are inherently part of the movie’s charm. This is based off a game made for children, after all.  

While there was plenty to feed the nostalgia of longtime fans, Blumhouse also comprehensively establishes the “Five Nights at Freddy’s” movie universe for those just starting out. I, for one, am here for the Josh Hutcherson renaissance and cannot wait for the subsequent movies Blumhouse has hinted at.  

The “Five Nights at Freddy’s” movie is a nostalgic thrill ride that stays true to the source material, while welcoming new fans into this unique and eerie universe.  

Photo from Universal Pictures.