Work is work but for those finding themselves trapped in an abandoned children’s play area, the cash would have to be better than whatever this Pizzaria offers. Adults of the northeast may remember Brewster Bears, a chilling restaurant which featured three Crash Bandicoot arcade machines, two slides and one titular bear who was utterly horrifying. Those deep-seeped fears of the mascot would lead to one child trying to punch the beast. Who would have thought just eighteen years later, they would be writing up about animatronic beasts featuring in Five Nights at Freddy’s. Emma Tammi takes the nest of wires which is the Scott Cawthorn story so far and tries to untangle it with leading man Josh Hutcherson. In doing so, they relate a middle-of-the-road horror which will appeal to and annoy in equal measure.
For those completely absent from seeing the video game series, the endless stream of cookbooks and botched RPGs, this adaptation of the animatronic terrors will sit well. Those who are deeply set in the lore and managed to withstand the mental gymnastics of piecing it all together will likely be left somewhat annoyed. Hutcherson and Elizabeth Lail make for a solid duo, the sinister backstory of the latter a tad too obvious though Five Nights at Freddy’s does not have subtlety in mind. Matthew Lillard, of course, uses his horror roots to carve out an enjoyable supporting turn. But his heavy lifting of the plot can only take this piece so far, and the rushed final third has little pay-off. When Hutcherson’s Mike Schmidt is wandering around seeing ghosts in the heart of Nebraska, there needs to be a larger pay-off than a blur of comedy featurettes with ghostly animatronics.
Those moments, fluttering back and forth between a Hutcherson nightmare to Abby (Piper Rubio), dancing around with loveable animatronics which soon turns foul when their eyes light up red, is one in a series of whiplash moments. Tammi has little hold on keeping audiences in their seats, the choppy waves and braindead writing a tad hard to swallow at times. At its core, there is a faithful rendition of the story taking place, though the changes may rattle the cage of those rabid fans. Much less terrifying than the game, though only so much can be done with the squeaky-clean animatronics. Information is thrown out there in a preceding scene to wrap up the story, from electrical faults to essential details which, by the time they are delivered here, make little sense.
Through all its faults there is some fun to be had and a few scares too. It cowers from gory violence and the inferences it makes, the bloodied handprints on glass doors are better than the real frights of seeing an animatronic cupcake eat the face of a man. Those gory spectacles do little, and there is a sense of classic horror ruminating in the latter-stage deaths found in the movie. Creepy enough to work because who isn’t afraid of animatronic bears wreaking havoc these days? Five Nights at Freddy’s is another competent adaptation of a now long-running video game franchise. Had it been released a few years ago, it would have jumped the bar for the standards of the time, but with an increase in care and positive steps taken for the adaptation process, Five Nights at Freddy’s feels light on everything which would make it a story-driven horror experience.