After years of collaboration between Five Nights at Freddy's creator Scott Cawthorn and multiple filmmakers—first with Warner Bros, then Blumhouse—the point-and-click horror series has finally become a movie. But possibly not a great one.
Five Nights at Freddy's will be out in theaters and streaming on Peacock this Friday in the US, but it's already in UK theaters, and the first critic reviews have been published there. They're pretty brutal. Our friends at GamesRadar said that the animatronic monsters are "about as scary as Barney" and that the PG-13 movie is a "gore-lite yawner," and they're far from the only ones who think so:
Independent: "a bloodless, generic take on a horror video game sensation"
SciFiNow: "typical game-into-film hash"
The Irish Times: "deeply puzzling and tonally bananas"
The Telegraph: "promises chills but delivers yawns"
NME: "...it's not scary, it doesn't make a whole lot of sense and it's about as fun as a congealed Hawaiian stuffed-crust."
Rough stuff for a film nearly 10 years in the making.
The Five Nights at Freddy's movie entered development all the way back in 2015. A couple years later, Warner Bros gave up on the collaboration with Cawthorn and it went to Blumhouse Productions, where it got a new director, family film maestro Chris Columbus of Home Alone and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone fame. A script was completed, but Cawthorn tossed it out for a new idea and Columbus later left the project. The movie that's out this week, finally, was directed by Emma Tammi.
Although it slowed the project down, Cawthorn's creative control may ultimately please fans of the games (who've been rating it highly so far on IMDB). After the original turned into a YouTuber-fueled sensation in 2014, it was followed by multiple sequels, as well as spin-off novels and Funko toys, and its murderous '80s pizza robots have inspired reams of both canon and fan-written lore. Cawthorn has, the reviews indicate, filled the movie with Easter eggs that fans of the games will appreciate.
But I wonder if the biggest FNAF fans, who might've been kids when the first game released but are now adults or nearly adults, won't be hoping for something more gruesome than what's being described in the reviews.
Two of the reviews, from SciFiNow and The Irish Times, go so far as to suggest that 2021 Nicolas Cage film Willy's Wonderland, which everyone clocked as an obvious FNAF ripoff, is the better movie. (Not that you should watch Willy's Wonderland, but it's on Hulu if you want to. I thought Renfield was bad, but Cage managed to make it occasionally fun, so maybe the same's true here.)
Five Nights at Freddy's is playing now in UK theaters, and will be in US theaters and on Peacock this Friday, October 27.