Rise of The Animatronic Murderbots

17th Dallas International Film Festival

By Ben Bright


Ok, I’m officially bummed out.

The Halloween season is almost at an end. Almost gone are the days of spooks and scares and Reece’s Peanut Butter cups, and candy corn [(I don’t care what you people say, candy corn is awesome) His editor respects opinions but this is bullshit] and retail establishments are already putting up their Christmas trees. What kind of monsters celebrate the passing of Halloween by immediately raising a Christmas tree? It’s fuckers like Crate and Barrel, Target, and many others, there should be a national law No Christmas till Thanksgiving is closer.

They try to take the greatest time of year of year and the retail world will bury it in a way worse than Billy Batts from Goodfellas. The unreasonably overzealous fans of Christmas and retail establishments who can’t wait to start capitalizing on the holiday two months in advance!

I believe the majority of us will agree that the Hallmark channel can give you more cavities than candy corn.

I will spend the next 11 months lamenting the passing of another October until the ghosts and goblins come out again to spread fear like the murderbots that I had the pleasure of viewing the early screening of Five Nights at Freddy’s.

Five Nights at Freddy’s is a horror movie based on the series of horror-themed cult video games of the same title where the animatronics thrive on murder and mayhem in a Showbiz or Chuck E. Cheese-style restaurant where families go for pizza and prizes. Think of it as if the Rock-afire Explosion became sentient and went on a killing spree.

I honestly expected a funny horror-comedy much like the Nicholas Cage-led Willy’s Wonderland which has a similar premise (which you can catch on Hulu, and you should because Nicholas Cage is a god amongst men who can do no wrong). While that was what I expected, I got something completely different.

Five Nights at Freddy’s follows Mike portrayed by Josh Hutcherson {Future Man, The Hunger Games). Who is also the sole guardian of his little sister, Abby played by Piper Rubio {Pretzel and the Puppies, Unstable).

At his rock bottom, he seeks the assistance of a career counselor Steve Raglan, played by the always great Matthew Lillard {Scream, Scooby Doo). Who works to assist Mike in finding him a job. The job Steve offers is as a night watchman job at the now-out-of-business Freddy Fazbear’s

Pizza. It’s a dilapidated building on the verge of crumbling that the owner does not want to sell for sentimental reasons.

The job is simple, just make sure no one tries to break in (my assumption would be vagrants trying to squat there for shelter). The job seems like an easy enough process, but things take a bizarre turn when a police officer knocks on the front door of the now-defunct family establishment.

The police officer, Vanessa, portrayed (Elizabeth Lail. You, Countdown) enters Freddy Fazbear’s, and the two strike up a conversation. She explains the location’s history to Mike and the reason Freddy’s was closed was that several children went missing in the ’80s and were never found.

Soon after Vanessa introduces Mike to the animatronic characters of the establishment, begin to exact their plan of process and the eerie story begins. The nights quickly go from stale and boring to thrilling and frightening.

Once again, I thought that it would be a funny horror-comedy but what I got was something dark and ominous.

The animatronics going on a rampage were not what made this movie scary to me. It’s the concept of every parent’s worst nightmare, child abduction.

That is really what made me uncomfortable. It’s a real-world issue that happens and is terrifying that it happens. Although I am not a parent myself and cannot fathom what it is like to have been abducted, the idea of it scares the hell out of me.

I am an uncle and I do not even know how I would be able to handle it if my niece or one of my nephews fell prey to a child predator.

I enjoyed the film significantly. Director, Emma Tammi (The Wind, Fair Chase) did a good job stirring up feelings of dread and discomfort. The creature design provided by Jim Henson’s Studios is the Sesame Street of your nightmares.

Marc Fisichella’s (Anna and the King, The Maze Runner) set design of the interior of the restaurant was strong in developing the feel of a restaurant from your childhood.

It also seemed to tell a good story with lots of twists and turns that have you squirming in your seats and generating genuine hatred for whoever perpetrated the horrible crime.

The one problem I had with the film was it takes a little while to find its stride. There are parts where the audience will feel like, “picking up the pace” but when it gets going the story’s action makes up for the slower-paced prologue.

I like a lot and I like a lot. I’m fairly easy to please (unless it’s Elvis, Forrest Gump, or Avatar 2. Fuck those movies! So, I can throw my fair share of shade around as well. After all, I think I might be the only person on the face of the earth who thought Exorcist: Believer was better than my fellow critics. My credibility can come into question sometimes. But you know what should never be trusted? Rotten Tomatoes (who gave it a rotten rating on their site) has been caught taking money to boost its ratings in the past (google it!).

At least I speak from the heart. Don’t forget I’m a guy also the guy who can watch a French New Wave film and then follow it up with Dude, Where’s My Car?

Five Nights at Freddy’s, to me is a legitimately good movie and it is not completely without humor.
It does have some zingers in there that made me laugh out loud! I recommend checking it out. I believe that you will like it. It has varied levels of light and dark, a few scares, some comedy because we can’t go dark all the time when it comes to furry animatronic animals on a killing spree, and a special bond between a brother and sister even when things aren’t always going their best. Go see it in the theatre or if you don’t want to go, it is streaming now on Peacock.
I recommend it but I’m just the critic.
This is an op-ed piece. The only fact that I can state is that Halloween is the best time of the year. Peer-reviewed and published. remember?

And once again, if you see it and you don’t like it. I will not refund your money.

15th Dallas International Film Festival