top of page
  • Writer's pictureS.J.

'Five Nights At Freddy's' Review: It's All Fun & Games Until Josh Hutcherson Gets A Job

Elizabeth Lail in a cop costume and Josh Hutcherson looking at each other
Universal Pictures

How about we gather every TV showrunner who has once described their series as a ''10-hour movie'' and as a punishment we let them cook up a five-night cinematic event based on this particular IP? I'll take a small cut. You're welcome, Hollywood. Five Nights At Freddy's brings the video game series of the same name to the big screen, directed by Emma Tammi and written by the game's creator Scott Cawthon, Seth Cuddebeck and Tammi. The supernatural-ish horror first introduces us to Mike (Josh Hutcherson), a security guard with temperament issues, which lead him to taking a new job at Freddy Fazbear's Pizza, an abandoned pizza place known for human-sized animatronics. With his orphaned kid sister Abby (Piper Rubio) and a local cop Vanessa (Elizabeth Lail), Mike soon has to lead their survival at Freddy's where the animatronics turn out to be rather murderous at night.

The most interesting thing about ''Five Nights'' and also its biggest friction is the seemingly contrasting creative visions put into it as Tammi is facing an uphill battle with her direction when challenged by the flawed screenplay. There's some flair shown here and there as Tammi knows how to craft depth in the frame and a few solid horror kills with an effective use of Claire Sanchez's set decoration and the animatronics themselves. The latter aspect is definitely the movie's biggest draw as it smoothly utilises both practical and computer-generated effects (supervised by Melissa Brockman) as well as stunts.

Those fleeting moments are unfortunately eventually easily forgotten since the success of Cawthon's creation as an internet phenomenon doesn't translate into a strong script led by him because much of it is dull at its best and amateurish at worst. Hence it's frankly understandable how Lail seems to be fully phoning it in, how Hutcherson displays no personality or how Rubio feels like a pawn on a board, since the downfall begins already with their characters who pretty much have the depth, originality and agency of NPCs. The writing makes it so that you never feel like you're being told a story, instead you're experiencing a very long cutscene written poorly by someone who's spent more time reading about lore than seeing thoughtful or even entertaining films. When that is the case, you're not allowing your chosen medium to elevate your ideas, characters or atmosphere.

When that sort of scripting meets the action in the main location, it's hard to see Five Nights even as any kind of gateway horror, which likely would be its last chance to earn a reason to exist. That's not the case though because for this movie to work even for younger audiences in that regard, your horror sequences and mood can not be found slacking or taking shortcuts. Sure, there are possibly plenty of point-at-the-screen moments for the ''knowers'' to be excited about but at what cost? At the cost of a spine-tingling movie, presumably.

Smileys: SFX

Frowneys: Screenplay, characterisation, Elizabeth Lail, atmosphere

You could've made something out of this, but hey, that's just a theory.


After Misery's logo with the text ''all things film & television'' underneath it.
bottom of page