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Chris Matthews poses for a photo at the Global Hub in Posvar Hall.
Chris Matthews: Inspiring language learners at home and abroad
By Anna Kuntz, Senior Staff Writer • April 22, 2024
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By Irene Castillo, Senior Staff Writer • April 22, 2024

Review | ‘Five Nights at Freddy’s’ leaves viewers without a remnant of satisfaction

The+Five+Nights+at+Freddys+movie+poster.
IMDb Screenshot
The “Five Nights at Freddy’s” movie poster.

Despite premiering on streaming the day before its release in theaters, “Five Nights at Freddy’s” still grossed nearly $80 million in its first weekend at the box office, raking in revenue from longtime fans of the decade-old video game franchise — fans such as myself. 

With my promotional Freddy Fazbear’s Cookie Pizza warming my lap, my friends and I eagerly awaited seeing America’s darling Josh Hutcherson bless our screen as Mike Schmidt, a man who can’t seem to hold a job due to his tormented past. 

Mike is a single guardian who looks after his little sister, Abby, played by Piper Rubio. The movie follows Mike as he fights to prove himself a reliable guardian for Abby while also trying to uncover who kidnapped his little brother over a decade ago. Threatened with losing custody of his sister, Mike takes up a job as a night guard at the abandoned family entertainment restaurant, Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza.

Longtime fans of the FNaF series will notice something about the movie very quickly — the movie is not canon. From the family trees to the behavior of the animatronics to the overall timeline, “Five Nights at Freddy’s” does not abide by the lore established by the video games and books.

While the choice to make the movie an alternate universe may disappoint the canon fetishists out there, it does not in itself make it a bad movie. What really condemns “Five Nights at Freddy’s” to media inadequacy is its underperforming plot and failure to draw on its source material.

In a clever reference to the title of the film, Mike Schmidt spends five nights at Freddy’s, but he spends the better half of three nights sleeping — a clever reference to what I almost did for the first hour of the movie. Mike’s dream during his first night introduces the connection between the pizzeria and Mike’s childhood trauma, but they fail to build on this in an interesting way until the climax of the movie.

The B plot follows Mike’s Aunt Jane attempting to secure custody of Abby for herself, but it ultimately cooks up a nothingburger of a storyline which fizzles out with no substantial bearing on the plot. Aunt Jane is a brand new character to the FNaF franchise, created solely for this movie, and yet her absence would have little bearing on the main chain of events. Her character’s purpose — to drive Mike to take the security job — is easily replaceable, and her motivations for gaining custody of Abby — to get a monthly check from the government — are trite and unconvincing.

What the movie lacks in a tight plot, it does not make up for in its inspiration. Putting the lore aside, “Five Nights at Freddy’s” fails to cinematize almost any novelty of the video games. The games were popular, above all else, for their specific brand of horror, for placing the protagonist in a constant state of fear that grew more unbearable each night. As sad as it is to say, the movie was simply not scary. 

The animatronics do get a bit quirky at night, but not in the way anyone expected. Rather than roaming the halls, lurking in doorways and laughing in the shadows, the animatronics perform a concert and build a pillow fort — with the night guard of all people. While some may argue it’s an alternate universe and doesn’t have to follow the rules of the video games, I would argue the choice to humanize the animatronics made for a far less horrifying or compelling atmosphere.

Even the most iconic parts of the game were left out for seemingly no reason. While it contained some unexpectedly deeper cuts — such as the “It’s me” written on the mirror — it failed to include obvious references like the Toreador March or Phone Guy. Sure, you might call those fan service, but if they can include The Living Tombstone in the end credits, they can include integral aspects of the base game.

All this said, the movie had its high points. They used practical effects for the animatronics, and they looked beautiful — far better than they would have with CGI. The movie also hinted at a sequel in its final scene, leaving me hesitantly hopeful that perhaps a “Five Nights at Freddy’s” movie series could find its footing in future installments.

The best part of the movie, tragically, came less than half an hour into the runtime — Youtuber Matthew “MatPat” Patrick, who has created hours upon hours of content on FNaF lore and theories, appears in a twenty-second cameo as a waiter. The waiter’s name is Ness, a reference to MatPat’s wildly popular “Sans is Ness” theory, and MatPat even got to say his infamous catchphrase that ends each of his videos — “That’s just a theory.” It was really stupid, but it was the campiness I was looking for in a movie about a video game that has been endlessly mangled by the Internet’s garbage disposal.

I would be lying if I said I did not enjoy “Five Nights at Freddy’s,” but I wish it had lived up to the awe I got from the full story of the video game series. Even if it isn’t the strongest plot-wise, it’s a great movie to watch with your friends and excitedly point, mouth agape, at any reference you can possibly find.

About the Contributor
Thomas Riley, Opinions Editor
Thomas Riley is a junior double major in Politics and Philosophy and English Writing. They enjoy all things comedy and love to satirize current events and student life in their own writing. You can catch them procrastinating in Hillman, reading in Cathy or dreading a required economics course in Lawrence. Share your own opinions or sell them CDs by emailing