I have long stated that making a movie based on a video game is often a daunting task. The challenge of adapting several hours of gameplay into a two-hour window often causes hard choices about what makes the final cut that often upsets the fan base and dooms the picture.
The cinematic landscape is filled with failed attempts in this genre but has recently seen some big success stories and successful television adaptations.
Five Nights at Freddy’s stars Josh Hutcherson as Mike; a man down on his luck and deeply haunted by a childhood trauma. Mike tries to raise his sister Abby (Piper Rubio), but finds himself facing a custody battle with their Aunt that he can’t afford, especially with the bills mounting.
With few options available; Mike accepts an overnight security job at a closed theme Pizza restaurant whose animatronic characters made it a huge draw back in the 80s. Things go oddly for Mike as he starts to have even more vivid dreams about the trauma in his life which he is attemoting to unravel in his sleep through various methods.
A friendly police officer named Vanessa (Elizabeth Lail), visits Mike during and after his shift frequently and Mike soon learns about the reason the restaurant closed and begins to wonder if there is a connection to his trauma or if the visions he sees while sleeping at work can unlock answers he has been seeking for years. Further complicating matters are the animatronic characters who appear to come to life and bond with Abby, as Mike sees a darker side behind the merriment and sets a path in motion filled with danger.
The movie exceeded my expectations in terms of depth and plot. The acting and themes were also of a higher caliber compared to other films in this genre. The characters possess a captivating blend of creepiness, deadly menace, and charm. While some viewers may express disappointment over the film’s PG-13 rating and the toned-down violence, there are still moments where the implied or off-camera carnage provides a glimpse of the genuine danger present in the story.
While I am sure many would like to see a gore-laden extravaganza, the movie was far more entertaining than I expected largely due to the characters, and plot.
I did call the big twist in the film a few minutes in but despite not having played many of the games or read the books in the series*; I was hooked from the start and look forward to future Freddy movies in the future.
3.5 stars out of 5
1 There’s a book series? Let’s look — huh. Sure enough. -ed