Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

I Found the Five Nights at Freddy’s Movie Horrifying and…Touching? [REVIEW & SPOILERS]

Kay McHugh

[Content notice: mentions of violence and gore]

I never anticipated witnessing a Chuck E. Cheese knock-off, displaying erratic and homicidal behavior, viciously bite the head off of a young woman. I never expected to shed a tear during a PG-13 adaptation of a decade old sci-fi, horror game either. 

Thanks to the beauty of cinema, however, both of those things happened within a 110 minute timeframe. 

Prior to attending a matinee screening of “Five Nights at Freddy’s” (FNAF), I had only known a few things about the game and its extensive fan culture. I knew that Freddy was the name of a teddy bear robot who had likely been run over by a lawn mower one too many times. I knew that Freddy and his friends murder people, the animatronics are not actually just animatronics but the ghosts of murdered children. And I knew that Josh Hutcherson was really spicing up his Hollywood resume with this film, in the leading role.

Sitting in a room packed with fans dressed up in bunny ears and licensed T-shirts, I settle into my seat as the first scene lights up the theater screen. Knocks are heard outside the door of a security guard’s office where, through stifled gasps and trembling fingers, he crawls through a vent into a hallway where he tries to escape through a locked gate. 

He doesn’t. A hook-handed fox charges at him full force after singing a little diddy, and when we see the guard again, he is in a dark room strapped to a chair. “Oh no!” you may be thinking, and you would be right. In front of the guard’s face is a mask with spinning blades slowly approaching his face as he tries to escape. He doesn’t.

At this point, roughly five minutes into the film, I want to go home. The image of a man’s face being sliced off by a deranged stuffed animal doesn’t set me up for the most enjoyable viewing experience.

But, I had a tote full of contraband Dollar Tree candy, a family-sized bag of Honey Dijon Kettle Chips, an already purchased ticket and an enthralled best friend at my side. So, I stayed.

The film soon introduces us to the main character, Mike, an emotionally exhausted older brother trying to maintain custody of his little sister (Abby) after their estranged aunt hopes to open a case about reallocating custody. 

In the midst of this custody battle, Mike accepts a job as a night-shift security guard at an abandoned pizza parlor—just like every teenage boy dreams of. During his first night at the desk, Mike falls asleep and dreams about his younger brother’s kidnapping and presumed killing. 

In his dream, he watches as his little brother is stolen, seen holding a yellow toy plane from the rear window of a stranger’s car as it drives away. I cry at a lot of things, to be truthful. My go-to first date is never a movie because I will inevitably tear up and that ruins the ‘sexy and mysterious’ demeanor I consistently fail to uphold.

So, imagining the pain of a little brother being stolen away while an older brother watches, I feel tears line the ridges of my eyes. And then I think, “Chloe, you can NOT cry during ‘Five Nights at Freddy’s’”— so, I act really brave and I don’t cry.

After the car drives out of view, Mike sees five children standing in a semi-circle around him. When he asks if they saw the man who took his brother, he is attacked. Which, to be fair, is not an unreasonable thing for a little kid to do when a strange older man is emotionally on edge and asking questions of them.

Mike wakes up from his dream to find himself injured in real life. His acknowledgment of his wounds is interrupted by the arrival of a night patrol police officer (Vanessa), who welcomes herself inside and explains to Mike that five children were murdered in the pizza parlors during the ‘80s.

A day or so later, Mike and Abby’s aunt hires a group of biker-looking young people to vandalize the pizza parlor, hoping to get Mike fired and bolster her custody case.

Wrong move, lady. Wrong move.

What ensues is a frenzy of fuzzy attacks on the vandalizers. A cupcake (that can fly?) attaching itself to the face of one of the men. An overgrown duck and bunny staring at petrified men through security cameras. And, of course, the vivid and utterly disturbing decapitation of Abby’s babysitter, her body falling to the floor after a giant animatronic bit her head off. 

With my jaw touching my collarbones I ask:


I thought it was bold of the movie to continue on after this point, but it did. Because Abby’s babysitter was dead, Mike ends up taking her to work with him. After falling asleep and dreaming the same dream, he wakes up to find Abby playing with the animatronics like they didn’t just commit a heinous act of murder.

Then comes teary eyed moment number two: watching the animatronics build a fort with Abby, rearranging tables and chairs to lay underneath. You may be thinking, “Get a hold of yourself, Chloe, that scene is more cringe than sad.” 

However, may I remind you, the animatronics are still just kids. I found this moment to be so heartbreaking because you are confronted with the fact that Freddy and his friends are just souls robbed of a childhood; robbed of a life. They didn’t get to build as many forts as they should have been able to, and how could that not make you cry?

We soon learn from the night patrol police officer that all five of the children were murdered by the same man—William Afton, her father. He was the murderer of Mike’s younger brother, too. The animatronics are not merely haunted by the children, they contain their bodies too. 

Mike soon figures out that the animatronics, under Afton’s influence, are intending to kill Abby. He learns this too late, and has to save Abby from the duck girl who is actively trying to kill her. 

After a mini battle between man and machine, the animatronics are all seemingly lifeless. But when Afton, in an ugly yellow bunny suit, enters the scene and reactivates the animatronics, Mike is rendered unconscious and it is not looking too good for little Abby. 

However, Abby draws a picture depicting the yellow bunny murdering the five children, revealing to them that Afton is a common enemy and not a ruler. They all then turn on Afton, and we see the metal clamps and gears of his bunny suit eat into his sides.

He lifts the bunny mask above his head, saying “I always come back,” before placing the mask over his face and being dragged away by the animatronics. We then get a glimpse of Mike and Abby at the dining room table, trying to resume life as normal. 

Once the screen fades to credits you can see me, too, trying to resume life as normal. Unfortunately, I am a molecularly changed person after seeing FNAF—images of innocent children and cupcake murders etched into my brain. 

I can’t exactly claim that I wasn’t entertained by the film, but I can’t claim that I particularly enjoyed it either. At some points all I could do was gawk at the audaciousness of what was happening on screen, at other times I had to stifle a cry. 

“Five Nights at Freddy’s” has disturbed me in a very acute, irreversible way. If this was one night with Freddy, I don’t think I can handle five. 

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