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What the Five Nights at Freddy's Movie means for Video game adaptations going forward

Freddy Fazbears Pizza, a Magical place for kids and grown ups alike, where fantasy and fun come to life.

By Noah FeannyPublished 2 months ago 4 min read
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If you were a teenager growing up in the mid 2010's there is no way you've not heard of Five Nights at Freddys, AKA FNAF. It's really a bizzare occurance that led to the popularity of the series throughout almost the last decade, and almost instantaneously at that. Scott Cawthon, the creator of FNAF, released the first four games literally within a year of each-other- which is absolutely insane to me, considering big name companies spend sometimes literally a decade of time to create a sequel to a popular game, only for it to fall flat upon release.

My experience with this franchise has been strictly through the use of lets plays, I have not played a single game, although I have bought the first FNAF on steam, I've just never gotten around to playing it. (Am I scared? Who's to say, really?) Not many franchises have gotten their own video game adaptations done, and for good reason. Many games are hard to adapt, because often times, the filmmakers struggle to capture what makes the games so special to the big screen. Honestly, if I tried to explain the lore of this series to you, we'd be here for at least two hours, so i'll just summarize the basic plot of the first game and explain just how the movie adapts from that game and expands upon the overall lore of the series to create it's own unique story.

The first Five Nights at Freddy's game is very simple- you play as a night guard named Mike Schmidt at Freddy Fazbear's Pizza, and you are tasked with watching the animatronics from 12-6 am. Theres only one catch though, and that is the fact that these four animatronics- Freddy, Bonnie, Chica, and Foxy, will roam the building at night and attempt to put you inside of a Freddy Fazbear endoskeleton- meaning death. The gameplay is extremely basic- you are forced to stay in a small room with two doors that can be shut to keep the animatronics out while you look at the cameras throughout the building to keep an eye on where they will appear next. But be careful! The building runs on a power supply, and using the doors and checking cameras will use more power throughout the night. Once the power supply gets down to zero, then the doors will open, and unless you are lucky enough to be close to 6:00am when that happens, it's game over for you. This gameplay style was the core element of the main FNAF games (at least for the first four), and while there were minor changes, such as one game not having the use of doors, or another game taking place inside a bedroom instead of a pizza resturant, this structure was vital to the success for these games. Having said that, it is also an element as to why making a Five Nights at Freddy's adaptation would be somewhat of a double edged sword when being made.

To start with, the 2023 movie has a lot of similarites to the first game of the series- it's protagonist is Mike Schmidt - played by Josh Hutcherson, who takes a job as a night guard at Freddy Fazbears Pizza, and watches the cameras from 12-6, keeping an eye out for any intruders. There are four main animatronics :Freddy, Bonnie, Chica, and Foxy, with an apperance by Golden Freddy, who was a secret animatronic that appeared occasionally in the games, but is a very important character that left players with a lot of speculation as to who or what Golden Freddy was. It takes place over five nights, after which the movie concludes. This sounds pretty faithful to the game it's adapting and following the source material pretty successfully, so why did I say it fell flat upon its release at the beginning of this synopsis? To put it plainly, I feel that it was the filmakers decision to make this more story focused is ironically what made the movie not live up to the hype for me. Keep in mind, that I still enjoyed the movie for what it was- a FNAF movie that finally came out after years of aniticipation- but as a legitamate horror movie? It was not what I would call structurely sound. I think that the greatest strength that the movie has- the animatronics were the best part of the movie! So it was particularly dissapointing that the movie didn't utilize them more effectively to the point they are in the games. While the lore was incredibly interesting and disturbing to learn about, which was a hook for many players to latch onto, it was also the appeal of surviving these animatronics- which were dead set on coming to attack you, night after night, while the difficulty increased that was the most impressive aspect of the games that were a phenomemon. And the movie rarely uses them. I do understand why though. The practical effects probably would have costed a fortune, so it was a necessity to have the story focus more on the human characters, and their struggle and reasons to go and visit the pizzaria in the first place. Despite these complaints, I did find the movie worked, and I hope that any future sequels really utilize the animatronics, and make them more agressive, and have more scares with them being more possessed like they are in the games.

I also think that the passion involved from the team is another reason why the film worked as well as it could have. While video game movies in the past like Street Fighter, or House of the Dead were made shoddily and only were made for money of an existing IP, FNAF was respected by its crew, and tried to closely follow the story that the creator, Scott Cawthon created, which is very admirable. And previous video game adaptations like Sonic the hedgehog, The last of Us, and the animated Mario movie have shown us that when fans are the ones working on the project, it has a higher success rate, because it is also made for the fans of these games. And I think that with the help of this movie, we are heading into the golden age of video game adaptations, and I cannot wait to see what the future of FNAF has in store.

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