Film Review: Five Nights at Freddy’s (Universal Pictures)

By: Jesse Striewski

Truthfully, I knew very little about Five Nights at Freddy’s prior to going into the new film other than it’s a game I’ve surely pumped plenty of money into over the years already thanks to my kid, and it bore a striking resemblance (at least on the surface) to the 2021 Nicholas Cage vehicle Willy’s Wonderland.

But perhaps my ignorance of the franchise was actually advantageous in this case; having little to no knowledge of the source material, and in turn no real expectations of the film itself, I went in with more or less a blank slate. That said, I really enjoyed what was on display on the big screen.

John Hutcherson plays Mike Schmidt, a down-on-his luck, unemployed security guard raising his little sister Abby (Piper Rubio) solo while also dealing with the guilt and trauma of losing their little brother to a kidnapper when he was twelve years old. After accepting an ill-advised overnight position from his career counselor (Matthew Lillard) at a defunct ’80s family entertainment center called Freddy Fazbear’s Pizzeria, things take a turn for the worse for him.

It’s quickly apparent after starting the job and meeting local beat cop Vanessa Shelly (Elizabeth Lail) that there’s more going on behind the scenes at Freddy’s, discovering the animatronic figures in the pizzeria are not only possessed, but also share a certain connection to his long lost brother (and a creepy reaction whenever The Romantics track “Talking in Your Sleep” comes on).

Aside from a fairly uninteresting subplot involving a custody battle with a vicious aunt (Mary Stuart Masterson), the film actually moves along quite nicely (albeit a bit slow at times). And while others have criticized its focus on the kidnapping backstory, it never goes the route that so many similar films have before it with unnecessary sex and violence (and/or gore).

Is Five Nights at Freddy’s a flawless movie? Of course not. But is it harmless enough, PG-13 level campy fun that you can take the family to without cringing the whole time? Absolutely.

Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

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