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The student news site of the University of Northern Iowa

Northern Iowan

The student news site of the University of Northern Iowa

Northern Iowan

Unpacking the “Five Nights At Freddy’s” Adaptation

“Five Nights at Freddy’s” has been in production for eight years.

After eight years of production halts and questions of whether this project was still in motion, “Five Nights At Freddy’s” finally hit the theaters on October 27th and on Peacock the day prior.  While this movie is entertaining and packed full of Easter eggs for longtime fans to enjoy, to call this film perfect would be a stretch.

The set production of this movie was nothing short of amazing.  With worries that the animatronics were going to look cheap and the retro set design being cheesy, the visuals ended up being the best part of the film.  The movie did a really good job in capturing the creepy abandonment of the closed down children’s restaurant authentically.  The Jim Henson company made the animatronics look completely creepy and terrifying, while looking natural to the eye.  The lighting of the diner was beautiful and filled with so many Easter eggs for massive fans to pick apart. 

Speaking toward the cinematography, I thought the film was generally well-shot.  There were times where the angles paid homage to the video game using the “POV” style which I thought was a nice nod.  However, there was a problem with balance between shooting really artistic shots in the beginning of the movie which slowly faded out towards the end.  If the filmmakers would have kept the consistency at having creative shots being used, I think that could have elevated the overall feel of the movie.

I thought the acting was pretty good, although they did not utilize this stellar cast enough.  Josh Hutcherson was back on the screen as the lead, alongside Elizabeth Lail, and with most anticipation, Matthew Lillard.  Hutcherson and Lail did not give knockout performances by any means, but didn’t necessarily do a bad job either.  Considering that both of their characters (Mike and Vanessa) were pretty unlikeable, they did a fair job at keeping the audience captivated with them.  Lillard was so fun to watch as infamous psycho Michael Afton. He deserved way more screen time than he was given.  When he was on the screen, they were some of my favorite parts of the film.

My critiques of this film lies with the story itself.  I want to restate that I did love this movie and appreciate the fan service that was provided within it as someone who grew up with FNAF.  The story told in this movie I feel did not do justice to the lore written in the video game.  I felt it was not a well-made adaptation of the beloved horror game like the fans deserve.

I liked that they used the story of the first “Five Nights At Freddy’s” as the layout for this film, however I didn’t like how they meshed a bunch of different story elements from the sequels of the video games into this adaptation as well as adding in new original elements.  The movie lacked clarity of what they were trying to go for: an original story based on the video game, adapting the theorized lore, or paying homage to all of the FNAF video games into one movie.

All of the original elements were not executed well.  The dream aspect was dismayed, and the drawings and children’s ghost’s connection to Abby was never explained well.  It all seemed pretty underwhelming and never emotionally paid off.  Not to mention, all of the subplots in this movie kept getting lost and buried throughout the story which begs the question of their purpose in the first place.  It also should have been made a rated R film.  Besides the occasional jumpscare and first reactions of the animatronics, the fear elements just weren’t there, and got lost in the narrative, too.  Considering the genre in which the video game is derived from, I would have thought the film would be a lot more scary than it actually is.

The issues that run deep within this film are no secret and cannot be ignored, but does that mean we cannot enjoy it?  Critically speaking, I would say this movie is just okay.  However, I did have such a fun time watching it and indulging in the world of FNAF.  I think we can still appreciate aspects of the film, while also acknowledging it for what it is.  Many of the fans deeply enjoy this movie for just existing, while new watchers can now be introduced to the video game itself and theories behind it.  I would say this movie is definitely worth watching.

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