2023. PG-13. 109 mins. Directed by Emma Tammi
Video game movies continue to be an interesting subgenre. It is not an easy task turning a game into a movie and over the years it's been easy to see why. Outside of a couple movies there really aren't many most audiences would consider to be good. While the ambition is typically there, more often they tend to fall shy of the potential set forth by the game. Five Nights at Freddy's is the latest game to get the movie treatment and unfortunately it doesn't do much to improve the genre.
Mike (Josh Hutcherson) is a down on his luck security guard who has recently been fired from his job. He is in need of finding something soon as he takes care of his younger sister Abby. Their aunt doesn't think Mike is a suitable guardian for Abby and wants to take custody of her. To keep this from happening and show that he can find a job he takes a night job at a local run down family entertainment spot called Freddy Fazbear's Pizza. The job is presented to him by Steve Raglan (Matthew Lillard), a job recruiter who can see that Mike is desperate for something. Once Mike starts the job strange things begin to happen inside Freddy Fazbear's Pizza that may be more than he signed up for.
The overall concept here is an interesting idea. What if the animatronics at a Chuck E. Cheese type place came to life and started killing people? Not exactly an original idea but an interesting one, nonetheless. While the concept is good the execution feels like it never reaches the potential that it could. Following Mike around throughout the movie almost feels like a bit of a chore. Josh Hutcherson does what he can with the role and gives a good performance but there isn't much to grasp onto with his character or his situation.
There are too many unnecessary subplots going on with Mike and his home life that take away from the actual interesting parts of the movie. The whole plotline with their crazy aunt who wants to take custody of Abby could have easily been left out and nothing in the overall story would really change. We also get dream sequences that Mike has of something tragic that happened when he was a kid. While that plotline does end up tying into the overall story it still feels like it's unnecessary and not needed.
On the good side the effects for the animatronics look pretty good. It looks like there's some CGI mixed with practical effects, but it blends well enough for the most part. Outside of Josh Hutcherson the rest of the cast is fine but doesn't really add anything memorable. The one exception to that is Matthew Lillard, who isn't in the movie much but does what he can in his limited screen time. Overall, the pacing works well as the movie never feels like it's overstaying its welcome.
All in all, while there are a couple of good performances and the effects of the animatronic characters look cool, there just isn't much else here to grab on to. Too many side stories that don't amount to much and the feeling of the movie never reaching its full potential leave this as a disappointment.