The Reel Review
A man haunted by the childhood abduction of his younger brother finds himself in a surreal nightmare after he takes a job as a security guard at a derelict family pizzeria/arcade where homicidal animatronics come to life. Josh Hutcherson (the Hunger Games films) stars in this horror/mystery based on the similarly titled, popular 2014 video game.
The film’s eerie tone, an accurate visual nod to the macabre video game, is the only thing director Emma Tammi (The Wind) gets right in this ridiculously lame-brained movie that she wrote with Seth Cuddeback and Scott Cawthon, the video game’s creator. The flimsy plot makes absolutely no sense, the characters are one-dimensional, the dialogue is moronic and the tonal shifts between horror and comedy are so strange you might find yourself wondering if someone has slipped you a hallucinogenic.
For a PG-13 film intended for kids, there is a surprising amount of gore and a surprising lack of terror, other than a few uninspired jump scares. Josh Hutcherson, Matthew Lillard (Scream) and Mary Stuart Masterson are woefully underutilized in this film that won’t even be entertaining for hardcore gamer fans.
• Five Nights at Freddy’s is a 2014 point-and-click survival horror video game in which players must operate security cameras, doors and lights just often enough to not exhaust the limited electrical power and survive each night.
• The animatronic characters in the film were performed by puppeteers from The Jim Henson Company. At times when an animatronic character is walking, it took up to six puppeteers to navigate.
• Despite its unfavorable reviews and being released simultaneously in theaters and on the Peacock streaming service, Five Nights at Freddy’s had the highest opening day box office ever for a movie based on a video game, earning $78 million in its opening weekend. So far, it has grossed $217 million worldwide – making it the highest grossing horror film of 2023.