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“Five Nights at Freddy’s”: horror of the year or complete flop?

Samuel Zerillo writes about the newest addition to the video game adaptation world: “Five Nights at Freddy’s.”

On Oct. 27, the highly anticipated “Five Nights At Freddy’s” movie was released in theaters and on Peacock. Based on the popular indie horror game franchise, the movie comes after being announced all the way back in April 2015.

The plot follows Mike Schmidt (Josh Hutcherson) and his struggles to find a job to support himself and his sister Abby (Piper Rubio). After the deaths of both his parents and the kidnapping of his brother, Mike was left responsible for raising Abby by himself.  

The job hunt leads him to a position as a security guard at Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza. As the story progresses, Mike, with the help of Abby and a cop named Vanessa (Elizabeth Lail), starts to unravel the truth of Freddy’s to solve both the mysteries surrounding the pizzeria and the tragic disappearance of Mike’s younger brother. 

Since the movie opened, reviews have been mixed, with the franchise’s fans adoring the movie and critics slamming it. On Rotten Tomatoes, the movie has received a 28% on their critic-based Tomatometer. The audience score on Rotten Tomatoes is like night and day, with the fans giving the movie a rising score of 89%.

How can a movie be doing so poorly among critics yet so well among fans? After seeing the film over the weekend, there can be somewhat of an understanding why there is such a divided reception. It is clear that the movie is geared towards fans of the franchise exclusively. 

The plot of this movie involves storylines that originate from all four of the original “Five Nights at Freddy’s” games, while also including storylines from the spinoff games “Sister Location” and “Pizzeria Simulator,” the book series based on the video games and the most recent addition to the video game franchise, “Security Breach.” To understand half of what was being referenced in the movie, viewers would need to be up to date on the lore and story from each of the mentioned parts of the franchise. 

The movie included multiple references to the Five Nights at Freddy’s community including the YouTuber cameos throughout the movie including CoryxKenshin, who has done multiple gameplay videos of the FNAF videogames and MatPat, the host of Game Theory on YouTube. 

The movie also makes references to the fan theories and urban legends in the form of easter eggs. One of these references is Sparky’s diner, which is a location in the movie that is named after an urban legend from the first game in the series. The story is about Sparky, a dog animatronic that some fans reported seeing while playing the game. However, this appearance turned out to be just a myth.  

Due to the movie being jam packed with lore and a comprehensive story, it’s understandable if someone on the outside walks out confused. If you went into this film with no outside knowledge of the franchise, you were bound to get lost at some point. 

For longtime fans who have been waiting for this film to finally be released for almost eight years, the movie was nostalgic and a fun theater experience. For the film critics or average horror movie fans who went into this movie blind, it is easy to find it confusing or cheesy.   

I grew up playing these games with my friends and have many fond memories from my youth surrounding the franchise, so I thoroughly enjoyed the movie. It was a nice trip down memory lane, and it did a good job of staying true to the story that was created within the video games. 

The film is great for what it is, however its appeal is really only for fans and not much more. It does not have the appeal of other recent media based on video game franchises, such as “The Last of Us” or “The Witcher,” which were able to bring in and entertain an audience that was outside the community surrounding the video games. So, for fans of the games it was a long-awaited movie that did a decent job bringing the story to the big screen.

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