FNAF Movie Reviews: Critics Share Mixed First Reactions

By Klein Felt Posted:
Five Nights at Freddy's Josh Hutcherson and Freddy Bear

The first reviews of the Five Nights at Freddy's (FNAF) movie have hit the web. 

Following years of winning over fans on PlayStation, Xbox, and nearly every other gaming platform on the planet, FNAF is finally getting a long-awaited big-screen adaptation. 

Like the games, the film follows a security guard (played by Josh Hutcherson) who takes a job at the abandoned Freddy Fazbear's Pizzeria. However, this is not the typical nine-to-five, as a band of murderous animatronics haunts Freddy's, killing any adult that dares enter. 

While fans have been excited about the FNAF film, some were worried about reviews coming so close to the movie's release

FNAF Movie Reviews Are Here

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In anticipation of Five Nights at Freddy's October 27 theatrical release, critics dropped their first reactions to the film. 

Early returns are a bit of a mixed bag with the press being quite critical of the Blumhouse adaptation, calling out its cheap scares, lackluster production design, and lack of an R-rating. 

NME's Ian Sandwell remarked that the "pizza parlour horror doesn’t deliver," feeling like "a ticking of elements off a list" rather than an enticing horror movie:

"Yet it never really feels like much more than a ticking of elements off a list. The movie certainly has the trappings of 'FNAF,' but little of the appeal or tone of the games, which leaves you wondering who it's for. It's not tense or odd enough for long-term fans, while also not being engaging enough for newcomers."

The Hollywood Handle was a little more positive, calling the film a "satisfying, fun & thrill worthy good time:"

“'Five Nights at Freddys' leaps above it to deliver a satisfying, fun & thrill worthy good time at the movies, offering a solid lease on life for any potential sequels that may already be making the corridors to us.”

Clarisse Loughrey from The Independent held nothing back, opining that FNAF felt like a "tortuously drawn out, dreary portrait of 'trauma:'"

“Hints at a morbid, disturbing backstory for Freddy and co were tucked inside pixelated mini-games and boosted by a vast web of online fan theories.

The film’s script – despite having been co-written by Cawthon, alongside Tammi and Seth Cuddeback – discards this mystery in favour of the same tortuously drawn out, dreary portrait of 'trauma' we’ve seen a hundred times before. 

"Even the carnage itself is severely hampered by the film’s efforts," Loughrey added, calling out the movie's PG-13 rating: 

It makes for a lot less robot murder than you’d hope for, and even the carnage itself is severely hampered by the film’s efforts to land a bloodless PG-13 rating in the US. And for what? Most of the game’s fanbase are of drinking age by now – and it’s hard to believe anyone new will be converted by this broad adaptation.”

GamesRadar's Neil Smith said that while the animatronic-based horror of the Five Nights franchise seemed "precision-tooled for terror," the film is "about as scary as Barney the purple dinosaur:"

"With robot heads containing flesh-mangling chainsaws, faces resembling that of battle-scarred Terminators, and the lumbering gait of Romero zombies, Freddy Fazbear and his pals would seem precision-tooled for terror. Sadly, though, they are about as scary as Barney the purple dinosaur in what is ultimately a ploddingly predictable, gore-lite yawner."

Rory Cashin from Joe described the whole FNAF movie experience as "cheap," "lazy" and "[not] scary at all:"

"For the actual horror itself, it comes entirely from cheap jump scares... not even decently paced ones like you might have got from the source games, just the most basic LOUD NOISES to announce the sudden arrival of something on screen. It is lazy, and it isn’t scary at all."

Comparing FNAF to Blumhouse's horror hit M3GAN, Telegraph film critic Tim Robey said that while that other movie "bounced around with wit and gumption," Five Nights at Freddy's feels like "internet memes being pimped out to the point of exhaustion:"

"Needless to say, we’re a long way off the enjoyment value of Blumhouse’s 'M3GAN,' which used the same toned-down gore to land a PG-13 certificate in America, but at least bounced around with wit and gumption: it was funny, knowing and etched the robot killer with attitude. These specimens, courtesy of the Jim Henson company, are just menacing animal effigies being shunted around. Promisingly malevolent but with little going on inside, they feel like what they are: internet memes being pimped out to the point of exhaustion."

In Film Stories' review, Maria Lattila announced, "If The Last Of Us represented the best possible version of a videogame adaptation," then Five Nights at Freddy's "represents what happens when things don’t go to plan:"

"'Five Nights At Freddy’s' continues what’s been a disappointing streak of horror films in what has been otherwise a stellar year for films. It’s an uninspired adaptation, afraid to break free from its source material but also unable to translate what makes the game compelling into cinematic form. If 'The Last Of Us' represented the best possible version of a videogame adaptation, 'Five Nights At Freddy’s' represents what happens when things don’t go to plan. Bottom line: should the movie appear on one of the security monitors in the game itself, I’d simply be inclined to switch said monitor off."

What To Expect From the FNAF Movie?

While the FNAF fanbase has been eagerly anticipating this big-screen take on the beloved video game world, it seems the results may be less than stellar. 

The series felt primed for horror movie success, especially with a name as prolific as Blumhouse behind it. However, that does not look to be the case. 

Coming into the movie, audiences had a couple of concerns, paramount of which was what the movie was rated.

The PG-13 rating was called a "missed opportunity" by fans despite, creatives ensuring there were going to be some genuine scares hidden within. 

That lack of an R-rating looks as though it has genuinely hurt the upcoming film. Even the most narratively thin horror films can be a fun time because audiences know they are going to get their money's worth with a bloody death or two. 

However, what FNAF delivers (at least according to these critics) is a toned-down, diet soda horror experience. 

This would be fine if the performances, story, and production design all held their weight, but when words like "cheap," "lazy," and "predictable" are being thrown around to describe these elements, the anti-gore PG-13-friendly look is going to stand out even more. 

Five Nights at Freddy's comes to theaters and Peacock on Friday, October 27. 

- In This Article: Five Nights at Freddy's
Release Date
October 27, 2023
Josh Hutcherson
Matthew Lillard
- About The Author: Klein Felt
Klein Felt is a Senior Editor at The Direct. Joining the website back in 2020, he helped jumpstart video game content on The Direct. Klein plays a vital role as a part of the site's content team, demonstrating expertise in all things PlayStation, Marvel, and the greater entertainment industry.