Sunday 29 October 2023

REVIEW: Five Nights at Freddy's (2023) - Starring Josh Hutcherson

Review by Jon Donnis
"Five Nights at Freddy's" brings the popular video game franchise to the big screen in a way that will thrill fans and newcomers alike. This supernatural horror film successfully captures the essence of the games while offering its own unique spin on the story.

"Can you survive five nights? The film follows Mike (Josh Hutcherson) a troubled young man caring for his 10-year-old sister Abby (Piper Rubio), and haunted by the unsolved disappearance of his younger brother more than a decade before. Recently fired and desperate for work so that he can keep custody of Abby, Mike agrees to take a position as a night security guard at an abandoned theme restaurant: Freddy Fazbear's Pizzeria. But Mike soon discovers that nothing at Freddy's is what it seems. With the aid of Vanessa, a local police officer (Elizabeth Lail), Mike's nights at Freddy's will lead him into unexplainable encounters with the supernatural and drag him into the black heart of an unspeakable nightmare."

One of the standout aspects of "Five Nights at Freddy's" is its ability to create a creature feature that is perfectly suited for Halloween viewing. The eerie and unsettling atmosphere of Freddy Fazbear's Pizzaria is brought to life with remarkable attention to detail, making it almost a character in its own right. The set design and animatronic characters are visually stunning and faithful to the source material, creating an authentic and nostalgic experience for fans of the video game series.

The film's casting is strong, with Josh Hutcherson delivering a compelling performance as the troubled security guard, Mike Schmidt. It's refreshing to see him hitting his stride as an actor in 2023. Elizabeth Lail, Piper Rubio, Mary Stuart Masterson, and Matthew Lillard provide excellent support and add depth to the story.

"Five Nights at Freddy's" shines in its dedication to fan service and references. The filmmakers have crammed the movie with nods to the game series, creating a sense of excitement for long-time fans. This level of commitment to the source material is commendable and enhances the viewing experience for those who have followed the games.

However, there are some drawbacks to the film. The animatronic characters, which are central to the game's lore, are somewhat underutilized, and their potential for horror is not fully realized. Additionally, the film lacks effective jump scares, a staple of the horror genre, which could have heightened the tension and fear factor.

The plot is intriguing and layered, weaving elements of horror, mystery, and family drama. The narrative explores themes of loss, family, and the supernatural, providing a satisfying and engaging story.

In conclusion, "Five Nights at Freddy's" is a solid adaptation of the beloved video game franchise. It successfully captures the essence of the games, offers a compelling story, and boasts outstanding production design. While it may fall short in certain areas, such as the underutilization of the animatronic characters and the absence of effective jump scares, the film's strengths outweigh its weaknesses. It's a must-see for fans of the series and an enjoyable horror movie for Halloween.

With a score of 8 out of 10, "Five Nights at Freddy's" is a worthwhile addition to the horror genre.

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