Five Nights at Freddy’s. What a story. Despite launching nearly a decade ago, the franchise hasn’t lost popularity, and at this moment in time, it has eight games, two book series, and as of this October, a film. But exactly how well did this horror-game hit translate to the big screen? Let’s discuss.
From the point of view of an ordinary viewer, the FNAF film may have seemed like a cut-and-dry story. A regular man is looking for a job and winds up working the graveyard shift at a fictional version of Chuck E Cheese called Freddy Fazbear’s, which closed in the eighties due to some…unfortunate circumstances. After spending a couple of nights there, he comes to realise the long-abandoned animatronics aren’t as lifeless as they look – and definitely aren’t as friendly, either. It’s a clever story, one that wraps up neatly, which as any FNAF fan will know, is not a common trait of the games. But that leaves one very intriguing question: what was the film like for someone who loves the games?
Now, allow me to provide you with some context. I’ve been a fan of the series for around six years, and have a pretty good grasp on the lore of the games. So when I went to see the film with some friends a few days after it hit the cinemas, I was a mix of excited and nervous – and no, not because it was a horror film. I've adjusted pretty well to the jump scares by now.
My overall review? It was pretty good.
Now for the long review. Personally, I thought the film captured the essence of the games quite well. It didn’t play down the restaurant’s chilling backstory, and nor did it shy away from the occasional violent scene. It even had a cameo from one of the most well-known game theorists out there!
But nothing is perfect, of course, so naturally the film had some issues, in my eyes at least. I won’t deny the film was good, but I also personally believe that these issues or changes could have been avoided or cut. Spoilers for the film ahead.
The first one is admittedly a small one, but one that fans picked up on, and that was the lack of the Phone Guy. Who is he you may be asking. To answer your question, Phone Guy is the person who leaves you messages throughout the first three games giving you instructions on how to survive. It’s a small detail, but one that could have easily been included.
Now for the bigger change.
In the film, one of the main characters, Vanessa Shelley, is revealed to be the daughter of the villain, William Afton. Whether you think the twist is good or not, it was an interesting thing to do, especially as it essentially merges two well-known game characters into one. In the games, William Afton does have a daughter, but her name is Elizabeth, and she dies at a young age at the hands of one of Afton’s robotic creations, going on to possess it. We never actually see this happen in the series, only hear the story through voiceovers at the start of each night. Vanessa, or Vanny, has no connection to Elizabeth at all, and she comes into the series as William Afton’s successor/apprentice after he dies, also at the hand of one of his own creations.
Whether they’ll choose to keep following game canon in the potential sequels by introducing Elizabeth and making Vanessa a villain, I don’t know, but it certainly can’t be denied that despite the changes, the film was pretty great. Though it has received bad reviews from some critics, many fans have disagreed, saying it was a good adaptation. And as for whether there will even be a sequel, the only thing we have to go off is Afton’s classic line; “I always come back.”