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Five fumbled nights at Freddy’s: Movie Review

Universal Pictures
Universal Pictures

How could one of the most successful horror properties of all time turn into such a boring film adaptation? That’s the disappointment of Universal’s new nap-inducing disaster Five Nights at Freddy’s.

There’s almost nothing likeable in director Emma Tammi’s take on the popular computer game series of the same name by Scott Cawthon, who also serves as a writer on this film.

All of what made the games so exciting and popular to its fans are missing from this boring, stocky movie. None of the game’s suspense, stakes, high stakes or trademark violence have translated into the film. Instead, the nearly two hour run time is bogged down with unrelated melodrama that’s performed by sleepy actors in a stilted script.

If you’ve never heard of the series, the game’s premise sees you playing as a nighttime security guard at an unpopular pizza arcade (not-so-subtlely parodying Chuck E. Cheese) trying to survive five nights on the job as you’re terrorized by violent, robotic animals who perform in the restaurant by day.

The film keeps this basic premise, with the security guard now being Mike (Josh Hutcherson, of Hunger Games fame) trying to make sense of what’s going on with their scary, weird creatures as he’s the new guy not he job.

But that’s where the source material’s influence stops: in the movie, Mike is also wrestling with the guilt of his younger brother being kidnapped when he was younger, and his haunting dreams making it hard to sleep. Once ghost children come into play, it all only gets weirder.

And weird is the highlight: this 14A mess barely contains any scenes of suspense or horror meant to excite audiences ahead of Halloween. It’s so tame that it’s even just PG-13 in the United States.

With sloppy editing and a dull script, including less than 20% of the movie even featuring the iconic robot characters like Freddy, Chica and Foxy, the whole thing feels like a slow, lame waste of time.

Pre-teen fans of the games and its online subculture swarmed the theatre on opening day, and despite their muted engagement (with little screaming, laughing, or anything really) many of them left saying they’d enjoyed it. Anyone not in pursuit of Freddy’s endless fan service won’t find anything here worth watching.

Anyone with a sincere interest in experiencing Freddy Fazbear and his friends should stay home enjoy the classic computer game. Everyone else should follow the lead of the film’s frightened characters: by staying far, far, away.

Five Nights at Freddy’s

2 out of 10

14A, 1hr 49mins. Horror Drama.

Directed by Emma Tammi.

Starring Josh Hutcherson, Elizabeth Lail, Piper Rubio and Matthew Lillard.

Now Playing at Film.Ca Cinemas, 5 Drive-In, Cineplex Winston Churchill & VIP and Cineplex Oakville & VIP. Also in IMAX.