FNaF movie: Can Five Nights at Freddy’s live up to the hype?

Three animatronic creatures stand on a stage with spotlights behind them. They are cartoonish in appearance. On the left is a light blue rabbit with a red bow tie. In the middle is a teddy bear wearing a top hat. And on the right is a bird-like character, who's yellow, wearing a bib with "Let's Eat!" written in capital letters. Their expressions are neutral but there's an air of menace about them.Patti Perret/Universal Pictures

Spooky season is here, and there’s one scary movie that’s expected to dominate the Halloween box office.

Five Nights at Freddy’s, FNaF for short, is the long-awaited adaptation of the beloved horror game franchise.

Fans have been waiting almost 10 years for the movie – and they have some strong opinions about what they want to see.

It’s got a lot of work to do to impress the doubters. But can it live up to the hype?

One person who’s witnessed the excitement first-hand is horror fan Ash Millman.

“I went to the cinema the other day to watch a horror movie and a little trailer mention for Five Nights at Freddy’s got people whooping and cheering,” she says.

“They’re excited, there’s a hunger for this film.”

That’s something that’s not lost on director Emma Tammi and producer Jason Blum.

“I’ve received some emails,” Emma admits, speaking to BBC Newsbeat via video call.

“The fans are very specific about what they want to see.

“And so it’s fun to get those impassioned pleas and ideas but it’s been great to hear the feedback too.”

Jason, boss of horror movie studio Blumhouse, adds: “I get occasional emails saying ‘wouldn’t it be cool if you just sent me a copy of that movie right now?’.”

A woman with long blonde hair, and large headphones draped around her neck, wearing a down jacket, holds both at waist height, palms upturned and fingers spread in a "stop" gesture. She's standing next to a large animatronic teddy bear, which is wearing a black top hat and black bow tie. He's got exaggerated features and parts of his mechanism are visible beneath the joints of his articulated limbs.

Patti Perret/Universal Pictures

Since the movie’s first trailer dropped online in May, fans have been analysing tiny details, trying to piece together the plot.

Hunger Games star Josh Hutcherson plays Mike Schmidt who, desperate for work, takes a job as a night guard at an abandoned restaurant.

But he’s got company at Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza – a cast of animatronic creatures that, unlike the diner, still have some life in them.

Not all the reactions have been positive.

There was a backlash over characters having red eyes unlike those in the game and concerns over its PG-13 age rating in the US, although it’s a 15 certificate in the UK.

The American rating – which allows children to see the film with an adult – got fans worried that the film wouldn’t be the full-on horror some had hoped for.

But why are people so invested in this movie?

To understand the hype, you need to understand a bit about the history of the video game.

The first instalment, released in 2014, also casts players as Mike, who has to keep the murderous animatronics out of his security control room using CCTV cameras and other controls.

Ash, who hosts PlayStation Access, explains that it was a novel approach to horror games at the time.

“It’s not like an action horror. It’s not a survival horror, you are in one room doing one thing,” she says.

“It’s just about staying safe in your room and controlling different buttons.”

The game got a reputation for its intense atmosphere and its secret ingredient – jump-scares.

It became a viral hit thanks to YouTubers such as PewDiePie and Markiplier sharing their reactions, which propelled sales of the games.

“The jump-scares are just integral to Five Nights at Freddy’s,” says Ash. “Everything is built around that primo scare moment.”

Freddy - the large animatronic bear and main enemy of the series - holds a microphone and glares into the camera. On either side of him in the dark background, two robot skeletons with big, cartoon eyes are visible.


Since the first, there have been eight sequels, several spin-offs and about two dozen novels and comics.

As the series has grown, Scott Cawthon has buried clues to an overarching backstory, or lore, in the games and other media linked to the franchise.

Ash says it’s almost “impossible” to piece it all together, but some fans put a lot of time and effort into decoding it.

“The lore is all over the place,” she says.

“It’s super-complicated, and super hard to find, but so rewarding when you do manage to get there.”

Translating all this to a movie that fans “will embrace” has been a big focus, according to Jason and Emma.

Adapting any material for film requires compromises and changes to the source material, and Newsbeat asks Emma if she’s worried about the potential reaction to those alterations in the FNaF movie.

“Scott’s been our guide,” she says.

“I’ve really trusted implicitly the guidance of Scott in terms of what liberties we take, timelines we blend or characters we pull from,” she says.

Scott Cawthon has been intimately involved with the development of the movie, and, as Jason admits, is quite protective of his creation.

“It was interesting, and obviously super-challenging to work with someone who was so intimately familiar with the game because he created it,” says Jason.

As for why it took almost ten years to get FNaF into cinemas, Jason says it “took that amount of time for both of us to figure each other out”.

“Our relationship really evolved over all the time that we’ve been talking about the movie,” he says.

A woman with long, red/pink hair sits on a bed, holding an iridescent skull in her upturned left palm. She's giving a piercing stare to the camera, and wears a black top with pink-pattered high neck. She's got a chain-style silver necklace on too.

Ash Millman

If you look at Reddit threads, YouTube and TikTok videos, it seems that some die-hard FNaF fans have already made their mind up about the film.

Ash tells Newsbeat she can understand.

“There’s definitely going to be a crowd of people who are protective of their game and of this franchise, this has meant a lot to a lot of people for a long time,” she says.

“So I think there’s naturally going to be a subsection of fans who want to protect that and keep it for themselves.

“But I also think there’s a much wider portion of people who love it so much that they want to share it with everyone else as well.”

And Ash says she’s excited to see the spotlight on a scary movie when FNaF comes out on October 25.

“I love seeing a bunch of horror nerds come together and be like: ‘Oh my god, this is our thing, we’re gonna see all of our theories and ideas come together on screen’,” she says.

“I think it’s really exciting that it’s come to a new format, and it’s going to be super accessible, and also really just exciting for the people that have put years of their lives into figuring out exactly what is going on with Freddy.”


Newsbeat logo

Listen to Newsbeat live at 12:45 and 17:45 weekdays – or listen back here.

Related Topics


Leave a Reply

Skip to toolbar