The FNAF Movie: A Fan and Moviegoer’s Perspective

For long-time fans of the Five Nights At Freddy’s (FNAF) franchise, the creator Scott Cawthon’s departure from video games as a medium to film was a highly anticipated one. In between false positives and speculation, the FNAF movie finally released on October 27, 2023, just in time for the Halloween season. While generally positively received, there was still some controversy surrounding the movie regarding changes to the canon storylines of the original game, and a low rating from the film critic community. Regardless, the movie still managed to pull through with its references to the games, community, and pre-existing meaning established in the games.

Even in a vacuum, the movie is worth a watch - for those who were dragged along by their friends to a movie about a franchise you know nothing about, the FNAF movie is still a fun experience. For my fellow horror movie fans - while more of a comedy mixed with a horror, you’ll still find joy in the dread-building that Blumhouse is so well known for, juxtaposed with light-hearted moments that remind people of the source material. Not to mention the sound and costume design; with a sound design that is amazingly horrific, and costumes that fulfill all requirements for realism, viewers will find that moments too visceral to be on screen will leave little to the imagination.

_Note: the following detailed review will include spoilers for the movie, including changes to the story, cameos, and references._

First and foremost, for fans of the movie, their enjoyment/opinion of the movie will depend almost entirely on how much they are willing to let go of the main storyline for the sake of a fresh one separate from the original canon. While the inclusion of Vanessa as William Afton’s daughter can be interpreted as an attempt by Cawthon to shoehorn in the canon of the newer games into the old ones, it is also an interesting choice that allows long time fans to stay on their toes during the movie. By deviating from the games, the movie keeps FNAF fans and non fans anticipating what’s next, and ultimately putting both audiences on an equal playing field.

The choices made in changing the story are interesting ones; firstly, Mike Schmidt being an entirely separate entity from Michael Afton (who may not even exist in the movie’s version of events) is one of the most controversial ones. While many details of his life remain the same, such as having lost a brother and having a younger sister, crucial elements are missing. Within the original games, Mike Schmidt existing as an alias for Michael Afton serves as a driving plot point - a search for answers due to what is almost an inherited burden. On the other hand - it is also obvious why this choice was made - the lore of the games is both incredibly convoluted and also covers far too long of a timeline to be appropriately covered within a single movie, much less 1 hour and 50 minutes. The new storyline, in comparison, still manages to maintain some core characteristics of Mike’s personality, alongside making him a character that you can truly root for on screen.

However, the movie manages to make up for this loss of understanding by adding in small details that would only be visible from the eyes of a fan. For example, a major cameo from MatPat, a behemoth in the FNAF theory community, and his signature catchphrase, “that’s just a theory!” elicited gasps and pointing fingers form the audience when the movie first screened. Along with this, there were subtle nods towards the contributions of the community - songs, creators, and small details only revealed through years of theorizing.

In conclusion, if you don’t mind the canon being changed too much for the sake of a good story, or even if you’re a person who knows nothing about FNAF, the Five Nights At Freddy’s Movie is very much worth a watch. As a person who enjoys both the original games and horror movies in general, the elements of the story, production, and characters manage to captivate and leave a hefty impression.