By: Jack Falco


The newest installment of the Five Nights at Freddy’s series is the 2023 film adaptation, starring Josh Hutcherson and Matthew Lillard. The movie was highly anticipated by many, considering how successful the series created by developer Scott Cawthon has been. The movie is one of three in the coming trilogy directed by Emma Tammi, who worked alongside Scott to ensure the film lived up to the video game series. 

Five Nights at Freddy’s was first released as a computer game in 2014, and the 9th installment came out in 2021. Though he didn’t expect it to, Scott’s games gained a lot of traction online because of the deep and sad story within them. A lot of the storyline has come together with either fan theories or Scott putting more and more clues into the later installments. The new movie coming out has everyone putting even more pieces of the story together as well as questioning a few more things. 

Five Nights at Freddy’s lore has many complexities and different theories because of the computer games, the VR series, the sub-book series, fan-made games, and now the movie that would take a lot of explaining to understand. 

An easy, general overview of the lore is this: in the original FNAF game, the player takes control of a newly hired security guard at Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza. The player comes to find that the pizzeria is shut down, due to the missing children tied to the place. Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza was owned by two men named William Afton and Henry, two business partners who use animatronics to create entertainment in their restaurant. Freddy, the main animatronic and namesake of the series, is the most popular animatronic. All the animatronics suits were engineered by Afton, having mechanics that allow someone to wear the suit when it’s not in automatic mode. The franchise was very popular until the incidents. William Afton was known to be a serial murderer, responsible for over ten missing children and their deaths. His business partner, Henry, had a daughter who was William’s first victim. He then went on to murder 5 other victims, putting their bodies into the animatronic suits themselves. The bodies of the children were then never found, and the twist is that those children’s spirits now possess the animatronics and roam the shut-down pizzeria. Being mainly a children’s franchise, the business was closed and William was searched for but never found. The main premise of the first game was the possessed animatronics roaming the pizzeria in search of the man who killed them. The story continues to get deeper and deeper as more games are released, entailing thousands of new facts to the ever-growing storyline. With more and more installments of the game, fans put together timelines and theories to try and make sense of the entire story. 

The Five Nights at Freddy’s movie was said to follow the first game and its playthrough. The movie itself was very well done, the story was understandable, and there were many easter eggs to theories and big parts of the other games. The movie followed Mike Schmidt (Josh Hutcherson) and his new job at the pizzeria.  Like in the games, Mike must go through five terrifying nights in Freddy’s Pizza with the possessed animatronics (The detail of the pizzeria was immaculate by the way- the security guards’ room was spot on to every little item from the first game). Mike then finds himself accompanied by a police officer, Vanessa, who seems to know everything about the pizzeria. Vanessa and Mike get introduced, and Mike meets the animatronics and goes back to his job. Most nights, he sleeps on the job to focus and go back to his memories of when his brother was abducted so he can try to find the memory of who exactly it was that took him.

Since starting the job, his dreams have gotten weirder. He met the spirits of the children who were murdered, and they helped him understand the story behind the restaurant. Mike’s sister, Abby, is troubled as well. She talks to “imaginary” friends, which has Mike worried. When he started the job, Abby wanted to go meet the animatronics. She ends up having to come with him one night when her babysitter (who was killed in the pizzeria because she was working to try and ruin Mike’s career so that Abby’s aunt could gain custody of her, which is a whole other plotline itself) is nowhere to be found. Mike falls asleep on the job again, Abby goes out and meets the animatronics. She reveals to Mike that they are the ghost children, possessing the robots and that they are her “friends”.

Mike freaks out, as would anyone, but comes to understand the story when Vanessa tells him more about it. The movie then moves on to the more horrifying story, where the possessed animatronics’ spirits tell Mike that they want Abby and in return, Mike can have his brother back in his memories. Mike tries to protect Abby and Vanessa tries to help as well. The height of this movie is the reveal that William Afton (the murderer and the person behind Springtrap who’s an even more popular animatronic from Freddy’s) is still alive and is still controlling the ghosts, as well as he is the person who hired Mike in the first place. William is also revealed to be the person who abducted Mike’s brother.

The animatronics/ghost children want Abby to play with them forever and are helping lure her in so that William can kill her. Mike goes to protect Abby at the restaurant and is joined by Vanessa, who reveals Afton is her father. She tries to stop William from killing Mike and Abby and is killed by him because of that. In the end, Abby shows the animatronics/ghost children that William is the enemy and they end up killing William because his animatronic suit fails and he is killed in the springlocks. 

The movie did a great job at taking after the first game. The office was perfect down to every little detail – the animatronics were accurate and the storyline made sense. One big point I have to make is that the movie trilogy is said to take place in a separate universe from the ones that the player controls in the games. These new events all take place after the same history of FNAF, but the storyline of the movie is a lot quicker in solving the main problem than it is in the games. It’s obvious how much thought went into this movie, and how much love and hard work went into trying to make the fanbase happy. The performances of all the actors are phenomenal, without being tied into the lore of the games the movie is comprehensible and horrifying on its own. The sound was perfect, the noises were accurate to the games and the voices were as well. The cinematography was well done and the movie felt very authentic.

Some things that were offsetting were how the movie went through the lore and the story. Even though a lot of the timeline of FNAF is fanmade, most things in the storyline are confirmed by Scott and the games. Vanessa being Afton’s daughter was a throw-off, the solving of the ending was a little unbelievable, as the way Abby turned the animatronics back on Afton was through drawings. The new introduction of a child (Garret, Mike’s abducted brother) who was also taken by Afton leaves some more plot holes as well. Even with these problems, I have to say the movie did the games justice. It kept me enticed through the whole thing, focused on the story and survival of the security guard and his sister.

Having been an avid FNAF fan since the 2014 release, I was freaking out when William said his famous quote “I always come back.”. While my 10-year knowledge of the lore is somewhat perturbed by the questions the new movie leads to, I was happy with the film. Fans may argue and say it was confusing and didn’t follow exactly what all of the timelines are, but we have to remember: Scott Cawthon himself oversaw the movie. Every single thing was intentional, the music, the placement of little toys in hidden windows, and some different things alluding to more mystery were perfectly done. As Scott retires and the FNAF franchise is coming to an end, this movie has me very hopeful for the next two in the trilogy. The vagueness and unanswered parts of the movie are just exactly what makes it accurate. In a true FNAF manner, it leaves room for intense fan speculation and new interpretations, and I wouldn’t have expected anything less. 

Check out the movie, Five Nights at Freddy’s, in theaters now.

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