Sunday, November 5, 2023

Five Nights at Freddy's

Movie Name:
Five Nights at Freddy's
Year of Release: 2023
Director: Emma Tammi
Starring: Josh Hutcherson, Piper Rubio, Elizabeth Lail, Matthew Lillard, Mary Stuart Masterson, Kat Conner Sterling, David Lind, Christian Stokes, Joseph Poliquin, Grant Feely, Asher Colton Spence, David Huston Doty, Liam Hendrix, Jophielle Love, Tadasay Young, Michael P. Sullivan, Wyatt Parker, Lucas Grant
Genre: Horror, Mystery, Thriller
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 2
View Trailer

Synopsis and Review
Another commercially successful release from Blumhouse, "Five Nights at Freddy's" is authored by director Emma Tammi who has previously directed "The Wind" and episodes of the show "Into the Dark". The film focuses its narrative on mall security guard Mike Schmidt, who is fired from his position when he attacks a man who is taking a small child, a situation Mike mistakenly perceives to be a kidnapping (the man is actually the child's father). Mike who is the guardian of his sister, finds himself in a tough situation since he needs a new job in order to keep supporting the household, while his aunt is also trying to get custody of his sister, so she can get the custody's monthly payments. He eventually caves in and takes a job at Freddy Fazbear's Pizza, an abandoned family entertainment center, one that requires a security guard  at night in order to avoid squatters and further damage to the building and its contents. Mike falls asleep during his first night at the job, and he has his recurring dream where his brother is taken when he and his family are out camping. He also meets police officer Vanessa Shelly, who gives him some background on the place, including the fact of why it closed down (which was due to the disappearance of 5 children). Mike's aunt decides to cut some corners, and tries to sabotage him by hiring a few people to trash Freddy's. However the animatronic mascots come alive and kill all the hoodlums. Mike in the meantime has to bring his sister Abby to work with him as his babysitter is unavailable. During that night she becomes familiar with the animatronics who befriend her. Mike uncovers that the animatronics are actually possessed by the ghosts of the missing children, but soon finds out they have sinister ambitions and Vanessa herself knows more than she has led on.
Unlike some of the best features previously produced by Jason Blum and released by his Blumhouse, "Five Nights at Freddy's" is rather anemic from a suspense point of view, the same going for humor or even character relevance. Emma Tammi takes her time in slowly revealing Mike's trauma and what his arc is, but for the most part it seems like the character only exists at night, has no actual motivations in his life, or for that matter has any relevant ambitions or even social skills. The interactions that occur between Mike and his sister Abby are repetitive and always depicted in the same note (she's remote, he complains about her and always feels absent minded). Which is to say, all characters in this feature are very roughly illustrated, and ultimately are unsatisfying in terms of actually taking us on a journey, even if in this case the narrative is trying to illustrate the journey of redemption Mike seeks for the loss of his brother. In addition to the limited character development, the animatronics themselves aren't necessarily particularly scary (nor is their utilization particularly effective), nor is the third act reveal, which ultimately feels underwhelming. The cast tries their best with what they have, with the underrated Mary Stuart Masterson creating something of a caricature with the villainous aunt, and Matthew Lillard having a bit of fun with a temp placing professional. The production team is at best uninspired, with the production design sadly not creating a memorable scenario for Freddy's and its animatronics to live in. This is a feature that feels undercooked and somewhat forgettable.