Frieda Seo ’26
The date Nov. 3, 2023, marks the one-week opening anniversary of the “Five Nights at Freddie’s” movie. The wildly successful video game franchise from the mid-2010s was recently adapted and hit the theaters on Halloween weekend. The film’s modest budget of $20 million brought in an astonishing $152 million in North American theaters and has an audience score of 88%. Yet the critics seem to have a very different opinion. Rotten Tomatoes tacked on a score of 30% that dipped as low as 27% on opening night, and the critics of New York Magazine titled their review as “Visions of Collapse.” But as an audience member during opening night and a long-time enjoyer of these funky animatronics, the movie was a great adaptation of the nostalgic games. It would be a stretch to call the movie a masterpiece, but it has an undeniable charm and did the best it could to fit most of the franchise’s lore in a 109-minute timeframe. The round of applause from the audience afterward and the engagement during the duration of the film justified the audience score and my personal feelings. So why is the critics’ score so low?
The critics, as they often are, were overly critical of nonsensical elements in the film, begging the question of how well cooperation and entertainment mongers know their audience. The countless remakes, repeated plots, obvious cash grabs and cheap cinematic ploys in recent years made this movie a breath of fresh air. It seems that the decline in moviegoers in the past years could be attributed to a multitude of reasons: COVID-19, streaming channels, boring movies, etc., but the recent success of “Barbie” shows that people will come out to see movies they genuinely enjoy and appeal to their interests instead of reusing gimmicks. So even though “Five Nights at Freddie’s” was admittedly corny, it broke free from the same old formula that every movie seems to follow these days and it brought back what made going to the movies interesting: risk-taking and uniqueness in films.
It is safe to say that what the critics say should go in one ear and out the other because filmmakers cannot win: according to them, a film is too basic and should be more eccentric, or (in our case) a film is too unconventional and should be more rudimentary. Movies were made for an array of audience members; their goal should be to entertain a high school student from Florida while simultaneously being enjoyable to a single mom in Nebraska. Who cares what a pretentious film snob with a degree in “I want to suck Tarantino’s toes and my daddy has more money than yours” from NYU has to say? Movie makers shouldn’t and neither should those of us in the audience enjoying the films that these critics wave away. The critical figures on Rotten Tomatoes, much like Bantam Bucks, are not real numbers — so ditch that and take a risk. “Five Nights at Freddie’s” won’t disappoint, no matter what those numbers say.