“Five Nights at Freddy’s”: Zero Scares

I really was interested in this film from the trailers. I liked the concept and it looked like it might at least be creepy. I am not familiar with the game but a good horror film can still work even if you don’t know all the background. For “Five Nights at Freddy’s”, it has a great cast who’s performances center on the relationships, the animatronic robots are well built but the story is completely predictable and the film has zero scares. 

“Five Nights at Freddy’s” is a supernatural horror film directed by Emma Tammi, who co-wrote the screenplay with Scott Cawthon and Seth Cuddeback, from a story by Cawthon, Chris Lee Hill, and Tyler MacIntyre. The film is based on a video game of the same name created by Cawthon. In the film, Mike Schmidt (Josh Hutcherson) is taking care of his sister Abby (Piper Rubio) but needs a job to prove his fitness for caring for her with their parents gone. His aunt Jane (Mary Stuart Masterson) wants to take Abby away from him. But Mike has a bad track record with jobs. He goes to see a job councilor (Matthew Lillard) who gives him a job at Freddy’s Fazbear’s Pizza, a once successful family entertainment center but now closed under mysterious circumstances. He discovers four animatronic mascots that move and kill anyone who stays at night. With the help of police officer Vanessa (Elizabeth Lail) and his sister, will Mike manage to survive Freddy’s?

So let’s talk about what I did like. In the story, the supernatural elements are explored with dreams and with the animatronic creatures. The story premise is interesting and I did like how Mike’s dreams were woven into the story. I also like that Abby is critical to the story and with the resolution. While I was able to guess the ending, I did like how it was written. The relationship between Mike and Abby is well developed and is central to the story. The dynamic between them is portrayed well and grows throughout the film. There are also some humorous moments with a taxi and a doll that did make me laugh. 

The animatronics are unique and offer a tiny bit of creepy factor to the film. Their build is important to the story and are eye-catching but that is to be expected when anything is built by Jim Henson’s Creature Shop. When these creatures are on screen, you do expect them to be violent but that is why it’s not surprising when they do commit murder. It is more surprising when they aren’t homicidal. While they are delightfully tattered and are well built, they don’t make up for the lack of scares. 

The performances are solid. Josh Hutcherson is believable and his performance portrays a man struggling to take care of his sister. The dynamic between him and Piper Rubio feels like that of siblings and his role as her caregiver is authentic. Their relationship has its ups and downs just like in reality. Elizabeth Lail does a great job as Vanessa although it is clear there is more to her character than she shares with Mike. Matthew Lillard performs the role of career counselor well. 

The biggest problem is that everything in the movie is telegraphed either by the story or by the acting. There are no surprises which equals zero scares. Even a creepy doll popping up here and there is more funny than scary. And while the animatronic robots are creepy, knowing what their actions will be sucks all the horror out of the scenes they’re in. You expect horror but get a simple supernatural story. It does not meet expectations set by the trailer. I also feel like you have to be familiar with the game to enjoy the movie to the fullest. 

If you are familiar with the game, you might very well enjoy this movie. The audience members familiar did seem to enjoy themselves and caught references the rest of us missed. I do think audiences will enjoy the performances of Josh Hutcherson, Piper Rubio, Elizabeth Lail, and Matthew Lillard. You might also enjoy the relationship between Abby and Mike, especially her and Mike’s growth as characters. While it did have creepy robots, I was just disappointed there were zero scares. 

Rating: 3 out of 5 robots. 

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