Why the Five Nights at Freddy’s Movie Is Going to Work

I am so fucking excited about the Five Nights at Freddy’s movie.

No, not that one – the real one, the actual one, that’s coming out this year. I played the first four games when they came out in the mid-2010s over the course of one weekend, spend the following month convinced I could hear the tinkly Toreador theme behind every shower curtain, and, even since, have been looking forward to the inevitable movie adaptation – and, now the first teaser is here, I would like to talk about why I actually think it’s going to work.

Firstly, and most foremostly, because Emma Tammi is the one directing it. If you haven’t seen Tammi’s outrageously excellent debut The Wind, this is your sign to drop everything you’re doing and get to it right now – it’s one of the great haunted house stories of the last decade, an unsettling, tight, and profoundly uneasy ghost story that deserves all the love in the world. Tammi, if her first feature is anything to go by, is a director with an excellent grasp on scares, atmosphere, and period pieces, all of which will come in handy for Five Nights at Freddy’s (as, judging by this trailer, flashbacks to the 80s and 90s are going to be a not-insignificant part of the movie).

Secondly, because I think this is a banging cast: I’ve made my great love for Matthew Lillard well-known, but I can’t overstate how happy I am to see him here as series villain William Afton. He’s genuinely a really talented dramatic actor, and his seminal work in the horror genre (yes, I’m just talking about Scream and Scooby-Doo, and I’m still right) means he’s bringing the genre gravitas to this role. It’s nice to see Josh Hutcherson back in such a prominent role again, too, and Mary Stuart Masterson filling out the villanous side of the cast has me really excited – she’s a champ at presenting this polished facade under which lies something much darker, a recurring theme in this series.

Speaking of on-screen presence, too, I’ve seen some people complaining about the look of the actual iconic animatronics in this trailer, to which I have to say; you’re wrong. Well, no, it’s entirely a matter of taste, but I actually really love how they look. One of the things that made them so memorable and unsettling in the game, for me, is their slightly run-down, ropey aesthetic – even brand-new, they’re very dated due to the era they were made in, and it gives them a borderline uncanny feel that hits for me. With the Henson Studio behind much of the animatronics for this movie, and based on what we’ve seen in this trailer, I have utmost confidence in this movie’s ability to capture that vision. Little details, like the Chica stained glass booth wall at around fifteen seconds in, give the world some real flavour, and there’s clearly a lot of love poured in to both these creature designs and the sets around them. Plus, I’m a sucker for anything done with practical effects, and it looks like a lot of what we’ve seen in this trailer falls under that banner.

But how exactly will the movie avoid the video game adaptation curse? Well, I have a theory, my friends – a game theory. So much of the lore of the original game, which this movie seems to be based on, is told in very abstract ways within the game – pixel minigames make up a big part of the background plot, for example, and, in the early days of it’s popularity, decoding and deciphering those snippets was one of my favourite parts of the fandom – and I think that’s going to work to the film’s benefit.

Most games unfold their story in more straightforward ways, either through direct gameplay, cutscenes, stuff like that, and a lot of game adaptations suffer when they try to lift interesting story aspects straight from the game and stick them on the screen – by that point, we’ve already seen them, and they’re far less intriguing as a result. But we haven’t seen a straightforward narrative version of this lore in the game that they’re adapting, so there isn’t going to be anything comparable, visually or in execution, to what we’ll see in this movie. Part of the lore’s appeal was, for sure, the interactive aspect and the deciphering element, but in the right hands (and if they’re anyone’s, they’re Emma Tammi’s), I’m confident the movie can keep it engaging. Or, at least, sensationally horrible.

I’m so looking forward to this movie – with Saw X coming out the same month, I’m ready to gorge myself on a delightful amount of long-awaited Halloween goodness this year. What do you think of the trailer? Are you a fan of the games? Are you looking forward to the movie, or do you think it should stay as a game series? Let me know in the comments!

If you enjoyed this article and want to see more stuff like it, please consider supporting us on Ko-Fi. You can check out more of my work on my personal blog, The Cutprice Guignol!

By Lou MacGregor

(header image via Variety)


  1. Megan E. Zombi

    So I am not a big fan of the games, personally. I enjoyed watching people stream them, but that’s about as far as I got. I love Lillard, though, and the news about Henson studio’s involvement really sold me. The trailer looks cool, and I have to agree actually… the lack of detailed storytelling will likely serve the movie well. Some diehard lore divers are probably going to hate it, but… The games really set up a great chance for “take the basic plot and some canon points, but otherwise you can do what you want”

    Liked by 1 person

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