The Student News Site of Lakeville South High School

The Current

The Student News Site of Lakeville South High School

The Current

The Student News Site of Lakeville South High School

The Current

Five Nights At Freddy’s: From an After Thought to a Full Length Film

How this “cash grab” became a 1.2 billion dollar franchise.
Movie graphic created by Ellison McDonald

The “Five Nights at Freddy’s” commonly shortened to FNAF, franchise started as a small independently-developed game, which turned into a brand so large a movie was created about it. 

It all started with Scott Cawthon, animator, game developer, author, screenwriter, and film producer. Scott began his career as a game developer with an uncommon genre, christian adventure games. His first games were self-funded and were created around 1996. His first game was titled “Iffermoon”, and his more notable religious games included “Pilgrim’s Progress” and “The Desolate Hope.” 

His christian games were well received, but not financially successful. He stopped making christian games and started making cheap computer and mobile games that would be much more profitable, though lower quality. He said to the New York Times that it “might bring in $40 to $50 each month.” In 2013, Cawthon made a game called “Chipper and Sons Lumber Co.” Unfortunately, it was not well received as its graphics were “creepy” due to its unsettling animatronic-like appearance. This inspired Cawthon to make something in the horror genre, so he developed a new game over 6 months. Finally, on August 8, 2014, “Five Nights at Freddy’s” was released.

The game gained popularity through popular creators making videos on it, and its interesting “lore” inspired fans on Reddit and YouTube to discuss the latest news. YouTube reported that it was the eighth most-watched video game on the platform. It also inspired the next generation of game developers, and avid fans made many variations of the game.

Though the games at first were well received, the community was commonly criticized for being immature. This is believed to be because, for most of the younger audience, this was one of the first games that they experienced in this genre. This was a driving force to its fast-growing community. The series also influenced the horror game industry by setting new standards of game quality, this was because FNAF’s main horror element was “jump-scares”. These were easy to recreate for future games, resulting in an overabundance of cheaply produced games flooding the market. 

In 2015, Warner Bros. Pictures announced that they had acquired the movie rights to the series, in 2017 Cawthon announced that the movie had been met with pushback and would be delayed, planning for a 2020 release. In 2018, it was delayed again due to scraping the script. It was finally released on October 27th, after many script revisions.

Before seeing the film I had doubts about whether the movie would be of good quality, as there were reports of Cawthon overseeing the production and not leaving it to the director. I can see why he would do so, as the lore of the games are very particular. I also expected that the movie would have endless callbacks to the earlier games due to the large amount of previously established lore in the universe of the FNAF series.

Now despite the expectations I had for the film, overall I liked the movie because of its self-containment, its well-written comedy, and its surprisingly well-executed horror. I’d consider it to be self-contained because it did not have many callbacks to previous games or other lore elements that viewers would have to understand going into it. The movie’s effort to stay self-contained led to a better movie viewing experience.

I expected the film to have a horror style closer to the source games of just jumpscares. Unlike the games, the movie takes a slower route to horror with a building storyline of the main character’s dreams, as well as the history of the characters, which all lead to a much more intense horror experience.

Because the horror did not take away from the comedy of the film, it showed that the movie did not take itself too seriously. It also had good writing, which was shown through the many revisions of the script, as well as the casting of characters. Overall this made the movie a much more enjoyable experience.

Even with the bloated state of the FNAF series and the abundance of lore with the brand, as a stand-alone movie, it is self-contained, funny, and scary. Overall, this can be a fun horror movie even if you don’t know much about its past lore or story.

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