The director of Five Nights at Freddy's just offered an explanation about the film’s questionable choice regarding Josh Hutcherson’s Mike and Elizabeth Lail’s Vanessa.
In the new FNAF movie, Vanessa is a local cop whom Mike meets not long after getting the security job at Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza. While she’s nice, there’s something questionable about her from the start.
As it turns out, she’s actually the daughter of serial killer William Afton—the same man who kidnapped Mike’s brother. While Vanessa does eventually help save Mike and Abby from her brother, she gets stabbed and falls into a coma after their big confrontation.
But despite Vanessa doing nothing while her father did horrible things over the years, Mike is still standing by her side in the hospital when all is said and done. But why would he want to be anywhere near her, given Vanessa’s involvement with Afton?
Why Are Mike and Vanessa Still Friends?
In a new interview with Variety, Five Nights at Freddy's director Emma Tammi explained the surprising decision to keep Mike willing to be Vanessa’s friend by the end of the movie.
This decision is decidedly questionable, given Vanessa’s connection to William Afton and how she stood idly by while her father did terrible things.
Tammi explained how “they’ve both had to bury really significant childhood trauma deep down:”
“We meet both Mike and Vanessa at really lonely points in their lives. They’ve both had to bury really significant childhood trauma deep down within themselves in order to get through their day-to-day lives. In Mike’s case, that’s taking care of his younger sister, and in Vanessa’s case, it’s putting on this front as a cop while still trying to be protective of someone very close to her.”
She continued, noting that a “yearning for companionship and a shared understanding of each other’s past” are the key things that “[draws] them together:”
“There’s something that those two characters see in each other, both said and unsaid, that is a recognition of trauma and a unique experience they both underwent in different ways. There’s been a shared path that they’re able to connect on in a way that is very unlike them being able to connect with anyone else. That yearning for companionship and a shared understanding of each other’s past is the main thing that draws them together.“
What's the Next Step for Mike and Vanessa?
Those who play the original Five Nights at Freddy's games will know why these two characters might share a longer history with each other.
In the franchise’s lore, Mike’s actual last name is Afton—which, if translated into a future film, would make him a brother to Vanessa. Interestingly enough, while the movie revealed her connection to Williams Afton, the original games have not outright confirmed their familial status.
In the games, Vanessa is actually far more sinister than her relatively innocent onscreen counterpart (besides her helping her serial killer father and all that). She’s confirmed to have actually killed at least nine children and even has her own Springtrap-style costume she wears: a bunny-themed outfit named Vanny.
With Vanessa in a coma at the end of the FNAF movie, it’s clear that should the story continue (and it almost certainly will), then she'll be returning. But will the character turn into the terrifying threat she is in stories like the one told in Five Nights at Freddy's: Security Breach?
More importantly, what will Josh Hutcherson’s leading character feel about his actual heritage, assuming Blumhouse adapts those particular story beats?
Five Nights at Freddy's is now playing in theaters worldwide and streaming on Peacock.