Five Nights at Freddy’s (dir. Emma Tammi)

By: Adam Freed

Five Nights at Freddy’s isn’t scary, or mysterious, or even remotely entertaining.  The anticipated adaptation of the beloved horror video game is another unfortunate addition to the ever growing pile of video games converted into unwatchable movies.  To be fair, Freddy’s never had a chance at success based solely on what may be the most asinine premise in horror film history, and that is saying a lot.  With apologies for a loose spoiler, the plot of the film centers on the souls of murdered children occupying the animatronic characters in the defunct children’s restaurant, Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza.  With the ridiculousness of that premise it should be no surprise that what becomes of Emma Tammi’s Blumhouse produced disaster is a tonally and target market confused film that offers not a single moment of value to itself or the genre it represents.

The film’s star Josh Hutcherson (The Hunger Games) is given nothing to work with by way of script and should be mostly exempt from wholesale criticism.  Although many talented actors have shined in spite of a limited surrounding production, Hutcherson has provided no evidence that his career can reach that aspirational level.  The shining beacon of light within Five Nights at Freddy’s numerous forgettable performances is Matthew Lillard (Scream, Scooby Doo) whose manic energy is a much needed lift for a film that lacks standout moments.  Lillard uses his regretfully limited screen time to chew up the campy fun that the film was most likely aiming to deliver.  

Animatronic Chuck E. Cheese style villains may translate into successful antagonists in the Five Nights at Freddy’s video game, but lifeless, motivationless deliverers of doom provide no entertainment value cinematically.  In Blumhouse’s attempt to thread the PG-13 needle, they painfully missed opportunities for success on either side of the MPA ratings scale.  To have toned down some of the screen terror and attacked the more family friendly “horror” audience capturable with a PG rating could have made for a spooky season family smash.  On the other end of the spectrum, and more likely for Blumhouse, is that Five Nights at Freddy’s could have embraced the camp of its premise and gone all out with a hard R adaptation of the successful game and ratcheted the blood and terror up multiple notches.  Either rendition of the film, family or foreboding would have attracted a clearly defined target market and made clear the intentions of the studio.  Instead, audiences are left with a lifeless mess, caught in between two more successful possibilities that no one will remember beyond its initial week streaming on Peacock.  

Target Score: 2/10 -  Five Nights at Freddy’s is a lifeless bore.  It accomplishes none of the fun or suspense captured in the video game.  Blumhouse studios is well known for its successful additions to the horror genre, this unfortunately is not one of them.