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Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Can you survive ‘Fight Nights at Freddy’s?’

‘Five Nights at Freddy’s’ jumpscares the big screen
Mariana Ramos





Spoiler Warning: This article will discuss spoilers about “Five Nights at Freddy’s.”

The game series “Five Nights at Freddy’s” (FNAF) is a point-and-click video game series that follows the player acting as a security guard at a rundown family pizza restaurant that now harbors haunted animatronics on the prowl to kill the player. This highly anticipated movie brings these characters to life on the big screen for the first time. While the film had many positives, it fell short in certain areas.

Before diving into the movie itself, it is paramount to understand the lore and community that follow the Freddy’s franchise. The original FNAF storyline revolves around a night security guard tasked with watching over a haunted pizzeria with malfunctioning animatronic characters. These animatronics come to life at night and are haunted by the souls of deceased children seeking revenge. The guard’s objective is to survive five nights, uncover the dark secrets of the establishment and evade the menacing animatronics. As the nights progress, the story unveils a disturbing history of child murders and supernatural occurrences, leading to a cycle of terror and malevolence in the pizzeria. 

The FNAF storyline is a long-standing mystery that engaged the fanbase in deciphering cryptic messages within Scott Cawthon’s releases. Notably, the YouTube channel GameTheory, hosted by Matthew Patrick, or “MatPat,” gained popularity for extensive FNAF lore videos, ending with his famous catchphrase, “But that’s just a theory, a game theory.” MatPat’s cameo in the movie was a pleasant surprise, as his videos provided the closest insight into the mystery surrounding the game at the time.

The movie starts with the audience learning that Mike, portrayed by Josh Hutcherson, is struggling to make ends meet and cannot seem to hold a job. Mike is plagued with nightmares of a childhood memory where his little brother Garrett, played by Lucas Grant, is kidnapped by an anonymous male figure. This reveals to us why he is so protective over his younger sister Abby, portrayed by Piper Rubio, whom he is actively fighting a custody battle with Aunt Jan, played by Mary Masterson, for. Upon learning that Mike is unemployed, Abby’s teacher suggests he get a new job, as that would increase his chances of keeping custody of her. Mike is referred to Steven Raglan, portrayed by Matthew Lillard, a suspicious career counselor who says night security at Freddy’s is the only job he could land, which Mike takes up later after an encounter with Jan. 

After starting the job, Mike sleeps through the first night and fails to encounter the supernatural animatronics that are finally shown to the audience for the first time as Bonny, Chica, Foxy and Freddy. Some sort of suspense is built when one of the animatronics moves, but nothing more. While he sleeps on the job, his recurring nightmare seems to become much more vivid when he encounters five children. The following night, Mike meets police officer Vanessa, played by Elizabeth Lail, who has a strange attachment to and extensive knowledge of the old pizzeria. This is where things start to get odd, as Abby tags along with Mike and befriends the haunted animatronics. A montage scene where the cast and the animatronics build a pillow fort and lay down together is shown. It is definitely far from the main story of dead kids seeking revenge, which is a disappointment considering that a few scenes before this, we watched the animatronics brutally murder vandalizers trespassing.

Director Emma Tammi succeeds in other cinematic aspects such as lighting, cinematography and special effects. However, when we take a writer’s perspective, this movie just feels off. It focuses on Mike’s survivor’s guilt and sets a somber tone, but then veers to a lighthearted one at times. If the movie had decided what it wanted to be, it could have been executed differently. There is also no explanation for some events, like the fact that side characters are murdered and there are zero effects on the story. Throughout the movie, there are some jumpscares paired with jarring sounds to spook the audience, but other than that, the movie fails to deliver horror with stronger tone of thriller. This can largely be attributed to the PG-13 rating. 

The movie’s standout moment comes in the final act, where we are treated to some genuinely eerie sequences. Steven, the career counselor, is revealed to actually be William Afton, the man behind the slaughters. William appears in a yellow bunny suit in hopes of succeeding in more killings; however, he is thwarted by Mike, Vanessa and the animatronics. The suit malfunctions and the spring locks inside gruesomely tear into his flesh while the animatronics take him away. 

Overall, as a finished product compared to video game source material, the FNAF movie did a decent job of bringing the game to life. When it comes to the production of this movie, there is no doubt that Blumhouse Productions did an amazing job, from the stage design to the actual animatronic robots. What brings this movie down is that it lacks the momentum of a real horror movie. It succeeds in allowing general audiences to enjoy the movie and sets the stage for sequels, but fails in certain writing aspects. All in all, if you are a FNAF fan or not, this movie is an entertaining watch.

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About the Contributors
Armin Suljovic
Armin Suljovic, Assistant Photo Editor
Assistant Ph
Mariana Ramos
Mariana Ramos, Graphic Artist
Mariana (She/They) is a freshman Sociology major from Houston, and this is her second semester at The Paisano. Outside of the organization, you can usually find them starting a new book, studying history, or discovering new albums to listen to. She joined the Paisano to begin her journey as a digital artist and expand her creative abilities.

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    ambonnayNov 3, 2023 at 5:43 pm

    It was jarring watching the animatronics behave friendly and innocently in juxtaposition to their prior actions, as the article mentions. The movie indeed struggles to find a tone and had many questionable choices in their decisions to portray the lore. Despite that, it was a fun, spooky experience on halloween, nonetheless!