This is meant to be the golden year for the video game adaptation. The Last of Us. Tetris. The Super Mario Bros. Movie. Clearly, someone didn’t send the memo to Blumhouse. The kings of movie horror have teamed up with Scott Cawthorn, creator of the Five Nights At Freddy’s video game franchise, for this disappointingly lame feature. Largely set in an abandoned pizza parlour, 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.
It stars Josh Hutcherson, who continues (in vain) his search for a decent role since playing Peeta Mellark in The Hunger Games series. Here, he stars as Mike, a young man still haunted by a perpetual nightmare concerning his brother Garrett, who went missing as a child. Unable to shake this off, he has a volatile employment history, shown early on when he’s beating up an innocent father while on security guard duty at a shopping mall.
With his mother dead and his father absent, Mike lives with his little sister Abby (Piper Rubio). Their mean aunt Jane (Mary Stuart Masterson) is trying to drive a wedge between the two, so she can look after Abby – and claim the child support money. She’s even installed a rogue babysitter, Max (Kat Conner Sterling), in Mike’s house to find evidence of criminal negligence to use against her nephew.
Amid all this, Mike visits a career counsellor (Matthew Lillard), who points him in the direction of Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza Place. Popular in the ’80s, it was shut down after some kids went missing. All Mike has to do is keep the place secure at night, ensuring nobody gets in. Problem is, the establishment’s weird animatronic robots – led by the creepy-looking brown bear Freddy – are still very much alive.
Josh Hutcherson plays the new security guard of a spooky pizza parlour. CREDIT: Universal/Blumhouse
Also prowling around the dusty barstools, pinball machines and arcade games is Vanessa (Elizabeth Lail), a kindly cop who seems heavily invested in the whole Freddy’s thing. Needless to say, the animatronic creatures are prone to violence, but its neither particularly terrifying or blood-curdling. Freddy’s is supposed to be “where fantasy and fun come to life”, but there’s very little of either here.
Directed by Emma Tammi (who made the 2018 frontier film The Wind), the script has been written with Freddy’s creator Scott Cawthorn heavily involved. And while there will be plenty of Easter eggs for fans of the game to lap up, there’s no sense of narrative adventure. No spoilers, but the Aunt Jane subplot, for example, goes nowhere. As for Mike’s ’mares, well, they’ll leave you catatonic with boredom.
With Blumhouse collaborating with the legendary Jim Henson Creature Shop (yes, the team behind The Muppets) to bring Freddy and co. to life, you’d expect a lot more. But these antagonists – if that’s even what they are – are so lifeless, even when they’re playing some musical instruments to Iggy Pop’s ‘Real Wild Child’. At least Scream star Matthew Lillard brings some creepiness into his little screen time. Otherwise, Five Nights At Freddy’s is moribund.
Director: Emma Tammi
Starring: Josh Hutcherson, Piper Rubio, Elizabeth Lail
Release date: October 25 (in cinemas)
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