Soon after taking an overnight security job at Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza, a guy realizes something sinister was left out of the job description. Five Nights At Freddy’s is the big-screen adaptation of the wildly popular video game of the same name. We were all lowkey rooting for the movie. Whether you’re a fan of the games or a fan of horror hitting streamers near Halloween, you probably found yourself with a little hope that this movie would be a remotely good time.
This title has been teased forever, and even my cold little heart couldn’t resist being pulled into the excitement. After all, it’s not every day we get a horror movie promising Matthew Lillard and sick animatronics from Jim Henson’s Creature Shop. Sadly, it falls victim to a messy script that is a chore to watch.
Matthew Lillard And The Animatronics Are Putting On A Show
For people who haven’t kept up with Lillard, this was a fun check-in to see how he has grown as an actor. For those of us who have seen him in recent non-horror stuff like Good Girls, it was nice to see him return to the genre that claimed him since Stu Macher uttered the infamous “liver alone” line in Scream almost three decades ago. While he was given the most predictable character of the movie, he seems to be having fun while showing his fans that he’s only getting better with age. While the script did none of the actors any favors, he gave the most consistent and interesting performance of the film. I sincerely wish they had given his character a little texture to make his track less obvious though.
Jim Henson’s Creature Shop gave us puppetry that kids these days aren’t used to. However, those of us who’ve seen how dark the Henson crew used to get in the 80s cannot help but enjoy these creepy little critters. While the script didn’t give them too many memorable moments, the artistry of these animatronics steals scenes even though they are not supposed to be the focus. They are pretty cool, and I found myself gawking at them in awe while waiting for them to get a bit more vicious than this movie allowed.
PG-13 Horror Can Be Good Though
Because Blumhouse is in their fan service era, I’m sure I missed out on a ton of Five Nights At Freddy’s references that will probably allow some viewers to forgive most of this movie’s mishaps. Some people are going to run to defend this title’s pitfalls and excuse them because of the PG-13 rating. However, that doesn’t work because we’ve seen a recent boom in Young Adult horror that is actually good. Those other movies have coherent and engaging scripts instead of a fan base telling people to lower their expectations to hell’s basement.
Josh Hutcherson, who plays Mike, the guy who took this dangerous job, really tries to give us everything he can with this underdeveloped character. While raising his little sister and trying to find steady work, he’s still obsessively returning to the day his little brother was abducted. While this part is interesting for about 5 minutes, it quickly becomes a task that keeps taking us away from the main attractions. This is in huge part because it lacks any real mystery as the script shows its hand in the first 10 minutes. This plot is as thin as 1-ply toilet paper in a way that is kind of insulting to the kids it’s supposed to be made for. I found myself frustrated watching him get frustrated as he kept returning to that day his brother was snatched to find clues. I was also annoyed that this predictable story was told in the most confusing way possible without ever trying to pretend it’s not going down Easy Street to That’s Obvious Avenue.
Again, people seem to want to give this movie a pass because it’s branded for PG-13 audiences. However, kids are smarter today than we were at their age. If we wouldn’t have been wowed by this, then they definitely deserve better. I also want to ask those same people where they’ve been for more recent gateway horror that actually gave us something to talk about. Movies like Umma and Missing. Or even others in the Blumhouse catalog like Happy Death Day and M3GAN. If you want to make the argument that it’s for the kindergarten crowd, then you haven’t seen those kids lose their shit for TV-14 shows like Stranger Things.
So, obviously, I can’t excuse a messy script that leads to a confusingly bad time. However, I’m very much here for same-day theater and streaming release dates, wicked puppetry, and the Matthew Lillard return to horror. In those regards, this movie did deliver. I choose to save those three things from this burning building as I watch the rest go up in flames.