Star Rating:

Five Nights at Freddy's

Director: Emma Tammi

Actors: Josh Hutcherson, Matthew Lillard, Mary Stuart Masterson

Release Date: Friday 27th October 2023

Genre(s): Horror

Running time: 109 minutes

A troubled security guard (Josh Hutcherson) begins working at Freddy Fazbear's Pizza on the nighttime shift, desperate to earn money so as to care for his sister (Piper Rubio). However, he soon discovers that the abandoned restaurant hides dark and terrible secrets, manifested in the form of five animatronic characters who spring to life with murderous intent...

Horror games like 'Resident Evil', 'Silent Hill', and the basis of this particular movie enjoy a special place in the hearts of players. When playing any of them, there's so much more time to explore the deep lore and the atmosphere than there is in the movie. There's really no restriction on the experience and, very often, how you play it determines how scary you can make things for yourself.

Beyond this, these games put you in the experience and are very often cogging from horror movies themselves. It's why horror games rarely make interesting horror movies, as it's not only self-referential but they also lose the active experience in the adaptation.

In the case of 'Five Nights At Freddy's', the game sees you moving slowly through an abandoned restaurant, discovering video and audio tapes of the poor souls who met gruesome and vicious ends. Here, you've got to suffer through poorly constructed exposition and bland directing mixed with diluted PG-13 scares. Josh Hutcherson's empty gaze does nothing to impart any kind of terror, and the presence of Matthew Lillard isn't enough to make things interesting. Even when the animatronic monsters appear, it just doesn't work as it should. What makes a horror game terrifying is that you experience the scares, and very often, your character has limited means to deal with the threat. They come terrifyingly close to the screen, yet here it's all done at a remove that makes it difficult to be scared of them.

For a movie that is based on such an original idea and one that really did have some genuinely thrilling moments, the movie adaptation pales in comparison to it. There's little atmosphere to be found, precious few laughs or scares, and ultimately, is burdened by trying to service a wider story that often plays out over the course of hours, if not days (or nights in this case). For a movie that's just over a hundred minutes long, 'Five Nights at Freddy's' feels like a slog to get through. By the time it reaches the grand finale, there's little left to keep anyone other than the most devoted of fans of the franchise entertained. Why spend five nights when it's barely worth an evening?