Five Nights at Freddy’s Review: Serving Up A Slice of Disappointment
“Five Nights at Freddy’s” had the potential to break the mold. The film, directed by Emma Tammi and based on the popular horror game series, promised a blend of nostalgia and terror. Yet, it seems to have missed the mark on both counts, leaving audiences with a product that is neither frightening nor fun.
The film’s narrative centers around Mike, played by Josh Hutcherson, a security guard tasked with watching over a long-abandoned family-themed pizza restaurant. The animatronic characters in this establishment, once the delight of children, have turned into nightmarish figures. While the premise is intriguing, the film’s execution leaves much to be desired. It lacks focus, oscillating between a gore fest and a tragic backstory that adds little emotional depth.
Emma Tammi, known for her work in the horror genre, notably with her 2018 film “The Wind,” brings a certain expectation of atmospheric tension and psychological depth to her projects. “The Wind” was lauded for its nuanced portrayal of isolation and the psychological unraveling of its protagonist, set against a desolate frontier backdrop. The film demonstrated Tammi’s ability to blend historical settings with psychological horror, a skill that could have been a significant asset in adapting a video game like “Five Nights at Freddy’s,” which itself is rich in lore and atmosphere.
However, when it comes to “Five Nights at Freddy’s,” Tammi seems to have diverged from her usual strengths. One of the most glaring issues is the film’s tonal inconsistency. In “The Wind,” Tammi masterfully maintained a consistent tone that heightened the tension and enriched the narrative. In contrast, “Five Nights at Freddy’s” suffers from a jarring mix of horror and drama, failing to commit to either. This inconsistency is particularly surprising given Tammi’s previous success in creating a cohesive mood.
Moreover, Tammi’s knack for psychological depth is conspicuously absent in this latest venture. While “The Wind” delved deep into the human psyche, exploring themes of isolation and paranoia, “Five Nights at Freddy’s” skims the surface of its characters, offering little more than one-dimensional portrayals. This lack of depth is a missed opportunity, especially considering the game’s original focus on psychological horror.
What’s worse is that “Five Nights at Freddy’s” lacks the genuine scares that made the game a cult favorite and fails to capitalize on its unique setting. Where it could have been a modern-day “Chopping Mall,” it instead becomes a tedious slog burdened by its PG-13 rating and a convoluted plot. While “The Wind” effectively used its setting to create a sense of dread, the visual storytelling in “Five Nights at Freddy’s” is less compelling. The animatronics, although practically designed, fail to evoke the terror that one would expect from such nightmarish figures.
However, not all is lost. The film does make an admirable attempt at practical effects, avoiding CGI for its animatronic characters. These figures, created by Jim Henson’s Creature Shop, offer a nostalgic nod to the era of practical effects in horror, even if they fail to deliver the scares.
“Five Nights at Freddy’s” is a missed opportunity. It neither thrills the audience with its horror elements nor does it offer a compelling narrative. The film’s inability to decide what it wants to be is its ultimate downfall. For a movie based on a game that had players on the edge of their seats, the film adaptation seems to have done the opposite, leaving viewers checking their watches.
RATING: 1.5 out of 5 stars
Five Nights at Freddy’s is now playing in theaters and on streaming.