Five Nights at Freddy’s – movie review

Toys run amok, killing and maiming, in director Emma Tammi’s Five Nights at Freddy’s.

Mike (Josh Hutcherson) is a troubled soul. A shopping centre security guard, his massively aggressive treatment of the father of a young son sees him fired and looking for a new job. At that stage, we – the audience – don’t know Mike’s back story, which is, indeed, a traumatic one. A long time ago, as a 12-year-old, he was asked to look out for his younger brother, Garrett (Lucas Grant), only to see him snatched. Neither Garrett, nor the perpetrator of the crime, were ever found.

And now, with Mike’s mother dead and his father no longer on the scene, he is left to look after his primary school aged sister, Abby (Piper Rubio). An avid drawer, although pleasant, she is hardly cooperative. Mike continues to have nightmares about the fateful day when his brother was taken. At the same time, his manipulative aunt Jane (Mary Stuart Masterson) is looking to wrest custody of Abby from him. After fronting up to a decidedly dodgy career counsellor, Steve Raglan (Matthew Lillard), Mike is told his prospects are severely limited.

You see, notwithstanding his latest run in, he has struggled to hold down any job. His only way out is to accept a dead-end role as an overnight watchman at a long-abandoned children’s themed venue, Freddy Fazbear’s Pizzeria. What he doesn’t count on is the giant-size animatronic toys at the establishment coming to life and ripping people apart, but that they do. A local cop, Vanessa (Elizabeth Lail), certainly seems to know more than she is letting on, as in no time Mike and Abby are targeted.

Based on a video game series of the same name, Five Night’s at Freddy’s is creative, creepy and strangely compelling. While I can’t say all the acting is top shelf, Josh Hutcherson acquits himself well as the film’s driving force. He comes across as sympathetic, but disturbed. Elizabeth Lail does a decent job as the police officer who means well, but has more than a little skin in the game.

The screenplay by Scott Cawthon, Seth Cuddeback and Tammi is crafted as a gradual reveal. That is, pieces of the puzzle come together as the film develops. As much as he wants to, Mike is unable to turn back time, so it is then a case of how he can move forward. In a portent of what is to follow, tension is built from a dramatic opening scene. Evocative lighting and sound help set establish the dark and twisted tone of the movie. Blood is spilled and more will be, but it’s a question of where and when.

An inventive, if farfetched, horror-thriller, Five Nights at Freddy’s got me involved from the get-go and kept me interested.

Alex First


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