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The Newspaper of McDaniel High School

The Oracle

The Newspaper of McDaniel High School

The Oracle

Five Nights at Freddy’s exemplifies camp


Content Warning: This story contains minor spoilers for Five Nights at Freddy’s (2023)


I’ve been a fan of the Five Nights at Freddy’s (FNAF) franchise for a ridiculously long time. In fact, in August of this year, it’ll have been ten years since the first game came out. And in turn, ten years since I terrorized myself and my friends with this game that was certainly not suited for our age group when it came out. Between the stupid, poorly written lore that is endlessly interesting, the intense and dedicated fandom and the culture that has been built around the games, it was really just a matter of time until some movie studio swooped in to make some money off the IP. Luckily for FNAF fans all over, that studio was Blumhouse. They managed to entrap all the best parts of the franchise into one ludicrously good movie.

One of the main selling points of this film—and for good reason—was the cast. Josh Hutcherson played the main character, Mike Schimdt. He really nailed the whole “tormented single surrogate-father” gig. You really feel how dissatisfied with himself he is through every sigh or disappointed stare at his younger sister, who he’s had to take over raising. In every scene he’s in, he brings it down in the best way possible.

While I’m of course a big Josh-head, I think the real star of this movie is Matthew Lillard as the antagonist, William Afton. As a long standing fan of both FNAF and Matthew Lillard, I genuinely think this is the best casting choice ever made. He just has this sort of “I’m definitely secretly a murderer but you don’t care ‘cause I’m so cool” vibe to him. I don’t want to give away too much of his performance, but if you’re a fan of his character Stu Macher from the 1996 Scream, I think you’ll get a kick out of him in the FNAF movie.

The cast isn’t the only thing to write home about though, and I would argue they’re not even the most impressive part. When this film was first announced, the first question anyone had was, “what are they gonna do with those animatronics?” This is five nights at Freddy’s, after all. And I think the movie nailed it. The animatronics really look like they’re pulled straight out of the game. They have this weird dirty looking texture all over them that mimics what would likely be the handprints of over-eager children celebrating their birthday at Freddy’s Pizzeria. Their eyes are scary and bugged out exactly like those horrid Chuck E. Cheese animatronics that no child has ever enjoyed. And even though their movement is a little strange looking at times, I think the costuming team really killed it. They have just enough fun to them that you can believe a kid might want to have a party there, but also enough rage in their eyes that it’s not really that shocking when they kill people.

I think overall though, this movie knows what it is. And I appreciate that. It doesn’t try to be some gritty thriller, or “babies first” horror movie. The acting can be really over the top and awkward, which sounds bad, but it ties in really well to the cheesy ‘80s aesthetic of the film. It’s bright and colourful without that horrible dark filter that plagues scary movies nowadays.

The whole movie just feels uneasy, but in the way where you’re forced to laugh or else you might cry. That type of feeling probably isn’t for everyone, but I think it’s very fitting of the FNAF franchise. It harkens back to that feeling of being a little kid and secretly playing it on the school library’s computer. That sort of thrill that comes with the fear, or in this case, the thrill that comes with watching Elizabeth Lail try to deliver a single sentence like a human being in any of her scenes as Vanessa.

I think this movie definitely isn’t for everyone. But if you’re in that weird middle ground like me, where you like the games, maybe haven’t played all of them, have seen some theories and are a weirdly big fan of Matthew Lillard, you’ll love it as much as I do. And most importantly, as long as you go in with realistic expectations, it’s great. But don’t expect ten years of messy lore and easter eggs to be jammed into a two-hour film. Expect to enjoy Josh Hutcherson and some tasteful ‘80s music.

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About the Contributor
Valentine Lindsey
Valentine Lindsey, Review Editor
Valentine Lindsey (he/him) is a junior who loves movies, fast food and Spider-Man. He likes writing for The Oracle because it gives him an outlet to express his very strong opinions on trivial matters.

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    vally_boy_3000Mar 21, 2024 at 12:11 pm

    Woah! Awesome