“Five Nights at Freddy’s” is here.
The long-in-development video game adaptation has been released into theaters (where it has already made more than $10 million) and onto Universal’s direct-to-consumer streaming platform Peacock. It follows a down-on-his-luck security guard named Mike (Josh Hutcherson) who takes a gig watching an abandoned pizza-arcade with a sinister past and rumors of the animatronic figures coming to life and murdering intruders. You know. That old chestnut.
But Mike’s search for the truth – about the pizzeria and about a slew of local children who went missing – eventually leads him to a shocking revelation, which we will dive into below with the help of director/co-writer Emma Tammi.
Spoiler warning, obviously! If you don’t want to be spoiled, turn back now.
Matthew Lillard is the bad guy
If you’ve seen the trailers, you know that Matthew Lillard is in “Five Nights at Freddy’s,” playing a seemingly innocuous career counselor named Steve Raglan. But towards the end of the movie, it’s revealed that he is actually William Afton, a serial child murderer who abducted and killed Mike’s little brother years earlier. He is also the father of Vanessa (Elizabeth Lail), the plucky local police officer who is helping Mike with his investigation.
Vanessa reveals that the animatronic figures at Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza are possessed by the souls of the children that Afton murdered, now under his control. (Also there is a mention that their bodies are actually inside the creatures, which is mercifully never explored.)
And when Afton is finally revealed, he’s piloting one of the animatronic suits (Spring Bonnie, thanks Wikipedia!). Almost 30 years after “Scream,” Lillard is once again revealed to be the evil mastermind.
“Well, he plays two characters in the film, actually, not just one. That was an element that we added for the movie. But in terms of stepping into the shoes of Afton, Matthew Lillard was so aware of how big those shoes were. And I think you bring someone like him who is so iconic in his own right to the table to step into an iconic character, and it just feels like a match perfectly made,” Tammi told TheWrap about casting Lillard.
“He was so excited. He’s got kids who are fans of the game, and he knew what a big deal this was going to be. And I was so excited, because not only is he insanely talented and such a pleasure to work with, but it’s such a dark character who does terrible things, and yet Matthew’s most sinister performances have always had a little bit of a smile and a wink to them. He finds so much joy and fun in the darker portrayals of these wild characters. The fact that he’s able to do both things at the same time, I thought was the perfect fit for this film.”
Is Afton still alive?
After Abby, Mike’s little sister, explains to the creatures that Afton was the one who murdered them, they turn on him, crushing him inside his animatronic suit. There’s a shot towards the end of the movie with Afton’s body crumpled and locked away in a storage room. But as the camera pushes in, we see that there might be some life left in him. Is he still alive? Or has his spirit just moved into the body of the creature? One of the ghost boys shuts the door on the dying (or dead?) Afton.
Tammi isn’t saying, for sure. But she says that it is something that will be explored, should there be additional movies.
“I mean, if we are lucky — and knock on wood, audiences like this first one — we’ll be able to continue on that storyline in the next movie,” Tammi said.
In a mid-credits scene, a taxi driver, who has already gotten a visit from one of the animatronic creatures, is snoozing in his cab when he’s awoken by Balloon Boy – one of the iconic characters from the video game series known for his ability to elicit an expertly timed jump scare – sitting in his passenger seat. The cab driver screams and we cut to black.
Might Balloon Boy come back for a sequel? We’d bet on it. But Tammi hasn’t gotten that far yet.
“I think our head is really just getting this movie out there and encouraging as many people as possible to go see it and really hoping that they’ll love and respond well to it. We’ve just recently finished it, so it’s all been a bit of a whirlwind, and we’ve really just been focusing on this first one to make it the best that it can be,” Tammi said.
“But beyond the release date, I would be so excited to keep going and, knock on wood, we’ll be able to keep making movies in this space.”
“Five Nights at Freddy’s” is currently in theaters and streaming on Peacock.