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The Student News Site of Triton High School

Triton Voice

The Student News Site of Triton High School

Triton Voice

Fazbear Frights Falls Flat

The long-awaited Five Nights At Freddy’s has arrived to mixed reviews
Josh Lind photo
(From left to right) Tirth Patel, Justin Szymanski, and Kyle Brancaleone debate the Five Nights at Freddy’s premier.

Five Nights at Freddy’s promises to creep, but all it manages to do is put audiences to sleep.

The latest horror blockbuster, hitting theaters perfectly in time for the Halloween season, is based on the viral video game series of the same name by Scott Cawthon. It aims to please both hardcore fans of the freaky Fazbear frights and general moviegoers alike. The movie stars a character named Mike (Josh Hutcherson, The Hunger Games) who we find falling on hard times, having just lost his job and losing a custody battle over his little sister. To appeal to a judge, he reluctantly takes the night shift as a security at a long abandoned  Chuck E. Cheese-like pizza parlor, Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza. Soon, through this job he meets a cop named Vanessa (Elizabeth Lail, Dead of Summer), someone who holds many happy memories from when the place was opened; and he discovers his sister’s strange connection to the abnormal animatronic all-stars in the restaurant, and begins to uncover a dark secret that ties back to his childhood.

The movie since the start seems to lack narrative focus. It immediately establishes the protagonist but the supporting characters are less than great, the most important of whom is Mike’s younger sister, Abby (Piper Rubio, Holly & Ivy). Mike became Abby’s legal guardian some years back and she has been living with him ever since. Their aunt Jane, however, has other plans. This sets up what you would think to be an important conflict but halfway through the movie, it is dropped and never mentioned again.

Despite being a movie based on a horror game, it lacks many of the signature scares the franchise is known for. A cupcake and a door carry the horror elements of the movie and the animatronics that are meant to dispatch distress are seen as little more than pathological paranormal playmates. 

Despite the name, “Five Nights at Freddy’s” the movie only seems to take place over a few days. When you think about that, more of the cracks start to show. Without getting into major spoilers, a custody case, getting fired, hunting for and losing another job, and an open and closed murder case all happen within less than a week.

While feeling disjointed, the movie still has charm. The standout performances come from the titular hero and villains of the movie: Mike played by Josh Hutcherson and the surprise villain played by Matthew Lillard (Scooby-Doo, Without a Paddle). While far from their best performances, you can tell they were trying and they had fun in their roles. Especially Lillard who was having a blast playing such an over-the-top character as he has become accustomed to since he played Shaggy in the Scooby-Doo movies. I just wish there was more of him in the movie. He only appears at the very end with very limited screen time.

That leads to another problem with the plot. Things often happen simply for the sake of convenience. People just show up in the movie to create a problem when things are too easy for Mike or leave when things are too hard for him.

For a budget of $20 million, The set design is very impressive. The animatronics especially were created with such care and attention to detail. Whether playing songs taking me back to my cheerful times at Chuck E. Cheese or dastardly dashing after Mike, the movie was always more fun when they were on screen.

The movie’s most interesting techniques also come from the famous mechanized mascots. They got creative with the way they were shot, at times making a near jaw-dropping spectacle. The way they moved felt robotic yet also human and their plans, while unspoken, kept the audience guessing when almost nothing else in the movie would.

While the movie has some fun moments and decent setpieces, I found the parts that were supposed to be the most exciting the least so. The climax almost put me to sleep until the last four minutes when the villain finally appears. After that, there is almost no resolution. Things simply reset to how they were at the beginning of the movie, leaving it feeling empty. Lillard has gone on record saying it was made for the fans first and that they [cast and crew] didn’t care for what the general audience thought.

This leaves general audience members like me feeling alienated. While the movie has some cool setpieces and stunning practical effects, the story leaves much to be desired. It feels like the whole point is to rush to the ending that doesn’t feel earned and comes out of nowhere. Expecting to hate someone we just met doesn’t work. We’re told about them throughout the whole movie but if they appear and are the only thing breathing life through the script, it left me wanting to see more of it and sad it expected me to want it gone.

My biggest problem with the movie however is that it treats us like the not so bone chilling children in the film. It feels like everything needs to be explained to us rather than shown. The emotions are told to the audience rather than conveyed and that left the impression that the writers thought we would be ignorant.

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