Warner Bros recently announced the purchase of film rights to Five Nights At Freddy’s—an indie horror game people love to hate and hate to love, (and also frequently post exaggerated reactions to in ‘Let’s Play’ videos on YoutTube,) effectively causing the Internet to lose its collective mind. While it’s easy to argue how video games and Hollywood are usually a match made in one of the deepest circles of Hell, this could go either way.
For an FNAF film- Phil Gorski
One absolutely crucial thing the FNAF movie has going for it that previous video game movies lacked, is that Scott Cawthon, the trilogy’s creator, will have creative input. Consider that Scott successfully created three largely successful indie games in the span of about one year’s time. Now consider how much more potential this movie has with him writing it.
An understandable argument from naysayers is that it’s going to be very difficult to create a movie based around five six-hour work nights at what is arguably the most frightening pizzeria ever conceived. As mentioned above: this will have a longer time for planning and writing, which means there will likely be some deviations from the gameplay elements. This is a good change, as it means that all of the potential for story development and presentation from the FNAF games will be here and it will be present without having to figure out the dozens of mini-game Easter egg puzzles that Scott is so fond of including. Much of this movie’s success will hinge upon how well Scott’s game creation translates into writing for a movie. This larger medium, with its longer running time, might be exactly what Five Nights at Freddy’s needs to really get the whole story out in a way that can be appreciated beyond FNAF’s cult fan-base.
Five Nights At Freddy’s has huge potential to be exactly the sort of movie we need right now. It’s subtle, intelligent and anxiety-inducing horror, boiled down to its simplest form- childhood fears given life. Also it’s not a sequel, nor is it a prequel, a remake, a reboot, a rehash, a prequel-sequel, or a sequel-prequel, like so many of the horror films were sick of. If this goes well, and the smart money says it has all the potential punch above its weight at the box office, it could be a nice shove in the right direction for Hollywood.
Against an FNAF film- Jaime Parra
Buying rights to popular videogames and books isn’t exactly uncommon in the world of movies. It’s happened before with the rights to The Sims series (though a Sims move seems un-thinkable,) but notably, obtaining them doesn’t always guarantee a movie. For starters, sometimes just having the idea stashed away somewhere means you can create something based on it later, but primarily, sometimes the idea is eventually deemed ‘not movie-worthy’.
In the case of Scott Cawthon’s Five Night’s At Freddy’s, the idea seems a poor one. Not because it can’t be done, but rather because it’s unlikely to be done properly due to the terrible track record of the modern horror genre. While we get a few great horror movies here and there, the vast majority are cookie-cutter, incredibly boring and exploitative movies. This in itself wouldn’t be enough to dismiss the idea of course, but that’s when you need to delve deeper into the game itself to understand why it wouldn’t work as a modern horror movie.
For those of you who are unaware of Five Nights At Freddy’s, (or FNAF,) it’s a horror game built around the simple idea of a single night guard having to avoid possessed animatronics inside a tacky, themed restaurant. Due to the small budget the game had, the gameplay focuses exclusively in one room, where you need to utilize cameras to keep track of the animatronics whilst simultaneously trying not to use up your allotted amount of electricity, which will allow you to temporarily close the doors into your office (and save your skin,) in necessary. Every little noise and small eye-catching detail would distract and make you nervous, cleverly building up the tension as they approach.
Horror movies nowadays are infamous for over-utilizing jump scares, and game-to-film adaptations are not exempt.
This subtlety before a large scare is hard to replicate, especially in horror movies, but coupled with the fact that the game itself is recognized for being one of the few instances of good, gaming, ‘jump scares’- a movie adaptation would need to put them in somehow, which could soon turn repetitive. Horror movies nowadays are infamous for over-utilizing jump scares, and game-to-film adaptations are not exempt. One of the worst instances was in-fact the sequel to Silent Hill, which much to the joy of internet reviewers everywhere had a jump-scare per scene change, including one that utilized a pop-tart coming out of a toaster. (No, that’s not a joke, look it up.)
Couple this with the fact the animatronics themselves are very hard to re-create in person, and we could get another huge problem on our hands: The main scare being entirely CGI. Now, that’s not to say CGI couldn’t be done or may not be needed, but consider the abuse this technique receives in horror movies nowadays, sometimes completely completely undermining the novelty of a good horror film’s monster.
Never say never though, FNAF could actually enter production and become something great, if the games subtleties were reproduced on screen. However given the current track record of both horror and game related movies, don’t hold your breath.