“Five Nights at Freddy’s”: A Disappointing Adaptation That Fails to Capture the Horror
The Misalignment between the Video Game and the Movie
In the age of video game adaptations, it comes as no surprise that “Five Nights at Freddy’s,” a popular video game developed by Scott Cawthon, has been transformed into a movie. However, what could have been a potential treat for horror enthusiasts turns out to be a trick. The film struggles to translate the unsettling nature of the game’s anthropomorphic animatronic creatures into a compelling cinematic experience. The problems start with the depiction of the creatures themselves.
While the video game succeeds in creating an eerie atmosphere with its demented Chuck E. Cheese-like characters, the movie fails to capture the same essence. The animatronic characters, with their bright eyes, teeth, and peculiar attire, fall short of being truly scary. One character even wears a bow tie, reminiscent of a guest on PBS. They resemble more threadbare toys than terrifying beings. Despite their attempts to stomp around like The Terminator, one character being a chubby chicken with the slogan “Let’s Eat” reduces the overall fear factor. Ultimately, they come across as overgrown Care Bears with a drinking problem, far from the terrifying creatures one would expect.
A Plot Caught Between Comedy and Horror
Moreover, the film is caught between two worlds, struggling to find a balance between PG and R ratings. This indecisiveness leaves it lost at the crossroads of comedy and horror. As a result, “Five Nights at Freddy’s” falls into the category of one of the poorest films across genres this year.
The plot revolves around a night watchman (played by Josh Hutcherson) who is mysteriously hired to guard an abandoned children’s pizza-and-games restaurant. Unbeknownst to him, the restaurant was shuttered in the ’80s due to a series of missing children. Hutcherson’s character takes on this seemingly absurd job to demonstrate his reliability and secure custody of his young sister, Abby (played by Piper Rubio), proving himself to be a responsible older brother.
Other notable actors in the film include Mary Stuart Masterson, playing Hutcherson’s aunt, and Matthew Lillard, who delivers an exaggerated performance as if devouring a slice of pepperoni. Director Emma Tammi, along with the scriptwriters, strive to construct a backstory and a reason for the existence of these murderous animatronic characters. Unfortunately, their efforts result in a convoluted and torturous plot that could rival the complexity of the “Saw” franchise.
Unanswered Questions and Uneven Execution
As the film progresses, numerous unanswered questions emerge, leaving the audience perplexed. Why was the song “Talking in Your Sleep” by the Romantics heavily featured in the film? Do the scriptwriters lack an understanding of human decay, as evidenced by the dialogue that swiftly oscillates between flirtatious and angry without natural progression? And why is it only in the final 10 minutes of the film that the animatronic characters surprisingly display the ability to speak?
This jarring execution is further intensified by the revelation that much of the film’s most gripping moments occur within a dream state. Consequently, viewers may find themselves nudging their seatmates awake to stay engaged in the disjointed narrative. Perhaps this explains the need for the frequent use of “Talking in Your Sleep” in an effort to bridge the gap between reality and dreams.
Failed Attempts at Horror
While the film attempts to capitalize on the inherent creepiness of a children’s ball pit, it falls short of transforming it into a truly scary element. However, the lowest point of the movie comes when the supposedly menacing animatronics—Freddy Fazbear, Bonnie, Chica, and Foxy—host a kiddie dance party. This seemingly innocent scene clashes with their inner nature and feels disconnected from the horror theme. It becomes evident that even the characters themselves, originating from Jim Henson’s Creature Shop, cannot overcome their inherent joviality.
The Movie versus the Game: A Missed Opportunity
In retrospect, it is clear that “Five Nights at Freddy’s” should have remained a video game. The unique mechanics of the game, combined with its immersive and terrifying atmosphere, made it a fan favorite. However, the poor adaptation to the big screen undermines the very essence of what made the franchise successful in the first place.
Final Thoughts and Recommendations
The PG-13 rating of “Five Nights at Freddy’s” reflects its strong violent content, bloody images, and language. With a running time of 110 minutes, this disappointing adaptation fails to live up to expectations. Rather than serving as a showcase of the potential horror that could have been translated from the video game, it epitomizes a missed opportunity.
In conclusion, “Five Nights at Freddy’s” fails to capture the spirit of its source material, resulting in a film that struggles between comedy and horror, leaving both aspects unsatisfyingly unresolved. While fans of the video game franchise may be curious to see how it translates onto the big screen, it is advisable to approach with caution and tempered expectations. It is regrettable that a promising concept for a horror film falls so short of its potential.
<< photo by Shai Pal >>
The image is for illustrative purposes only and does not depict the actual situation.