Nicolas Cage has been a joke since the early 2010s. Much like Bruce Willis his output largely consists of multiple straight to home video releases per year for more than 10 years now. But every so now and then one of these projects turns out to be more interesting than the average run-of-the-mill action flick. Movies like Pig, The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, Joe, Mandy and Army of One. Another one that stood out was Willie’s Wonderland. In that Movie Cage plays a janitor locked in a condemned Chuck E. Cheese like restaurant where he has to battle evil animatronics that come alive at night. It’s by no means a great movie, but it’s kind of fun and simply delivers on its promise. People in reviews and comments were quick to point out that this concept was ripped from the video game Five Nights at Freddy’s, which has now received it’s own official movie adaptation.
Willie’s Wonderland wasn’t even the first movie to take its idea from Five Nights at Freddy’s. The 2019 Banana Splits Movie also features giant animatronics killing off people. It was supposedly based on unused and rejected Five Nights at Freddy’s script and set at a TV-studio and starring existing Hanna Barbera characters in an R-rated horror movie. I have no idea how this ever got green lit, but it was another low budget horror movie that just delivers on its promise. But these movies showed me that there was some promise for a bigger budget official Five Nights at Freddy’s movie. How great will that movie be if these low budget outputs have some redeeming qualities and entertainment value to them?
Apparently not that great. In fact, this might be the most boring and disappointing movie I have seen this year. It’s baffling to me how they could ruin this simple premise with a movie that also manages to be a box-office success at the same time. Apparently the fans really like it and drove out in masses to see this movie. As somebody who has never layed the game I really have to judge this movie at face value. As all movies should be judged.
Five Nights at Freddy’s stars Josh Hutcherson as Mike, a troubled security guard. His younger brother was kidnapped back when they were kids during a picnic. He tries to find out the identity of the kidnapper by lucid dreaming about the event night after night. He has the custody of his much younger sister Abby, who has her own mental problems as she seems to be on the spectrum. He’s takes up a job working at Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza. A condemned pizza restaurant which houses a group of animatronics that come alive at night and kill people.
At least that is what the movie promises us. But after a mild horror opening scene the movie takes it time for some good old character building. Just the stuff anyone wants from a horror movie with a silly premise. The first hour or so mostly focuses on a custody battle between Mike and his aunt over Abby, alternating with Mike’s repeating dream about the abduction of his younger brother. Just the thing you want from a movie with evil animatronics on the poster.
There is some action halfway through when a group of people decide to trash Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza at night. They all have a nasty run in with the animatronics, though the PG-13 rating keeps everything from getting too explicit.
Up until the fifth night nothing much happens with these animatronics. If it was the fifth night, because the movie constantly jumps from day to night, from reality to dream sequence. I’m not even sure there were specifically five nights in the movie. This movie would benefit by giving each night it’s own chapter heading.
In fact these animatronics turn out to be kind of friendly. At one point Mike takes Abby to his work at night and she quickly befriends these animatronics and they all make a fort together. How cute.
One of the people participating in the building of the fort is a cop named Vanessa. If you were looki for the most terrible written character in movie history, well look no further. She’s an on-duty police officer who is apparently able to spend whole nights with Mike in this pizzeria. Her only function is to serve exposition. It’s her who provides Mike and audience with all of the background information. Mike never finds out something by himself, everything is explained to him by Vanessa.
Five Nights at Freddy’s contains a Scooby Doo ending. Which is ironic since the similar The Banana Splits Movie is based on a Hanna Barbera property. The company who is also responsible for Scooby Doo. But the reveal of the person behind all of it will not come as a surprise. He telegraphs it in his only scene during the first act of the movie. Even Friday the 13th Part V was more subtle with its whodunit gimmick.
I’ve seen comments about people who enjoyed this movie, but it seems those are people who played the game. They enjoy the lore, the references and easter eggs. Whenever something happens on screen that puzzles me, it’s probably something taken directly from the game. But a movie should work for everyone, just not the fan-base.
To me the only impressive thing about Five Nights at Freddy’s are the animatronics. Of the three movie about killer animatronics these are by far the best looking ones. But sadly, these characters are the movie’s only redeeming factor since it’s just all so boring. Even in a low budget B-movie Nicolas Cage’s completely silent role is more interesting than anything Josh Hutcherson does in this movie.
Unless you are a Five Nights at Freddy’s fan my advice to you is to skip it.