Five Nights at Freddy's is a survival horror movie, based on the video game of the same name created by Scott Cawthon. The film would take elements from the whole franchise, with some liberties taken as well, and the animatronic characters but be achieved through a combination of puppetwork, actual animatronics, costumed actors, and the occasional use of visual effects.
In 1993, Mike Schmidt, a 19-year old seeking work, is employed as a night guard at the family diner Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza, a place he frequented as a child. He learns from the manager Veronica Maxwell that the diner could face closure after failing a sanitation inspection due to an unsavoury smell. Beginning his night shift on November 8th, Mike receives a message from his supervisor Steve informing him that the diner’s animatronic characters Freddy Fazbear, Bonnie, and Chica, roam the halls to prevent their servos locking up. Mike notices Bonnie is missing from the show stage while stepping out to go to the toilet, encountering him in the hall and realises the animatronics are hostile. This is confirmed by Steve who explains the animatronics see him as an endoskeleton and may try to fatally shove him into a costume. Mike survives the night but is greatly shaken.
The next day, Mike angrily confronts Veronica, who reveals the animatronics have been hostile to the security guards since an event called the “Bite of ‘87” where a child’s frontal lobe was bitten off by one of the characters, revealing her father Norman is a victim. Steve encourages Mike to stay, pointing out Foxy the Fox Pirate, an animatronic in disrepair, claiming he is harmless. The second night involves Mike fighting off Bonnie and Chica. Mike finds an old news article mentioning several children went missing five years ago and were never found. Bonnie gets into the office, but Mike chases him out with shock sticks, aided unexpectedly by Foxy. He spends the rest of the night with the doors down, but notices Foxy is watching him from behind the curtain at Pirate’s Cove.
On the third day, Mike researches the history of the diner at the library, disturbing the librarian but she provides all the archived newspapers and documents she can find. Mike learns the restaurant was opened in 1983 as Fredbear’s Family Diner and had two animatronics Fredbear and Spring Bonnie. However, the Bite of ’87 occurred caused by Fredbear, and the victim died after having their frontal lobe bitten off. Further research reveals two-to-five children disappeared shortly after the Bite and a security guard was arrested and imprisoned for their apparent murders though the bodies were never found. Going to the restaurant, Mike privately checks on Foxy who is mysteriously protecting a golden-coloured Freddy costume, but he is disrupted by Veronica. Mike explains what he learnt, horrifying Veronica when he suggests the missing children might have been stuffed into the animatronics – explaining why Freddy and co. do it to the guards.
That night, Mike heads for the office before midnight but notices a children’s drawing of an unfamiliar character leaping out of a box. Remembering seeing an identical gift box in the prize corner, Mike encounters a masked doll-like Puppet in the box which is activated with a wind up key. During the shift, Mike realises the golden Freddy costume was likely Fredbear, but he cannot investigate since Freddy makes his move, toying with Mike while Bonnie and Chica become more aggressive. The power goes out, forcing Mike to disguise himself with a spear Fazbear mask. Freddy enters and is briefly distracted allowing Mike to zap him with the shock sticks and escape the office, avoiding Bonnie and Chica. He encounters Fredbear who whispers to him “Save them” before vanishing. Freddy charges down the hall after him, but Foxy intervenes, allowing Mike to escape.
With Mike in such a bad state, Veronica tells him not to come in to work and Steve agrees to cover the night shift, much to Mike’s concern. During the day, Mike tracks down Gerald Fazbear, son of the diner’s founder, and asks him about the Bite of ’87. Gerald explains that a child of a former security guard was shoved into Fredbear’s mouth by his own brother and his frontal lobe was crushed. The boy died shortly after, Fredbear was retired, and then the guard, his son, and three other children involved all disappeared. Mike puts two and two together. Returning home exhausted, Mike phone rings but he doesn’t answer it. The call goes to voicemail, and Steve calls Mike, revealing he won’t survive the night as Freddy and pals are trying to break in and they have a new “friend”. A horrible scream startles Mike and the call ends.
Mike races for the pizzeria, but discovers Steve is missing from the office. He checks the cameras, seeing Freddy and Bonnie are on the stage, Chica is presumably in the kitchen, and Foxy is in Pirate Cove. Suddenly, the camera feeds start to go out save the stage and Freddy starts laughing. A distorted radio signal fills the cameras, and Mike sees the reflection of something descending from the ceiling behind him. Mike turns around as the intruder clings to the ceiling upside-down, revealing itself to be a mismatched animatronic wearing an alternate Foxy head. Mike flees the office as the animatronic, which he nicknames Mangle, gives chase by crawling across the ceiling.
He hides in the supply closet, discovering the horrific smell of death, and discovers Steve has been shoved into an animatronic suit. Mike angrily confronts Mangle and beats it to pieces using a baseball bat he brought with him. Bonnie appears, so Mike flees to Pirate Cove and hides behind the curtains where he finds Foxy protecting the golden Freddy costume, Mike realising it is Fredbear. Mike touches the costume and experiences a surreal flashback where the child is placed in Fredbear’s mouth by his brother and friends, and then sees the Puppet from Fredbear’s point of view – the dead child’s soul is haunting Fredbear. Mike encounters Mangle again who feebly crawls after him into Prize Corner before Mike beats it til it is broken.
Mike hears “Pop Goes the Weasel” and the Puppet springs out of the box but doesn’t attack Mike, instead offering him a hand. Mike takes it and experiences a second flashback, revealing that the Puppet was a homeless child who was murdered outside the diner by noneother than the former guard. Mike awakens, finding the Puppet gone, and realises the guard may have been behind the murders. Freddy appears, and Mike crawls away to escape him. He makes it into the office and slams down the doors, only to discover the left door has been barred by Freddy’s foot, who begins to lift the door up. As Mike readies his makeshift weapons, Freddy drops the door and everything goes silent. It is 6AM. Before leaving, Mike checks on Mangle but finds it has gone. Following a trail of parts to Pirate Cove, he finds Foxy has dumped Mangle’s endoskeleton next to Fredbear, making Mike realise it might belong to Fredbear. He then calls Veronica to inform her of Steve’s fate.
By morning, the police have removed Steve’s body and the diner is closed. Veronica is relieved but Mike tells her his discovers and says they should let the souls of the children free. Veronica is sceptical, but when Mike tells her they will just keep killing people, she is convinced. That night, they break into the diner since Veronica still has the keys and set Mike up in the office as bait. Bonnie arrives, but Mike blindsides him with the baseball bat and then beats his face apart with Bonnie’s own guitar. Veronica finds Chica in the kitchen and sets off a gas explosion that blows up frying Chica. Mike spots Freddy leaving the stage on the cameras and races to rescue Veronica.
In the burning kitchen, Veronica backs into a corner as the still active Chica, now charred black, crawls towards her. Mike enters and fends off Chica before guiding Veronica out of the kitchen. Freddy approaches, but Mike and Veronica circle through the office and past Pirate Cove. Foxy appears, Freddy showing him what has been done to Bonnie and Chica. Foxy shrieks in anger and joins Foxy to hunt their quarry. Running into the stage area, the two duck behind the stage curtain but find a boarded up cellar door hidden under a pile of crates. Hearing Freddy and Foxy looking for them, the two manage to open the door and venture down into darkness. They discover the diner’s abandoned basement, filled with old props and equipment. Veronica screams, finding an animatronic golden Bonnie lying in a corner. Mike identifies it as Spring Bonnie, Fredbear’s partner in the diner’s early days, though Veronica refers to it as “Springtrap”.
The two look for a way out but find the windows have been boarded up. Examining the room, Mike realises it was boarded up to not let something out. They immediately turn to Springtrap – which stares right back. Springtrap rises unsteadily, its eyes a pair of glowing headlights. Mike and Veronica dash back up the stairs, but Springtrap grabs Mike by the legs and tries to drag him down. Veronica leaps over Springtrap and smashes him over the head with a chair. Racing out of the door, the two encounter Foxy who pins Mike against the wall to kill him when Springtrap clambers out of the door. Foxy releases Mike, freezing in shock at Springtrap, visibly shaking. Springtrap screams insanely and attacks Foxy, ripping him apart.
Mike and Veronica exit out in the stage area, finding Freddy waiting for them, but he is distracted by Foxy’s screams. The fox’s head is chucked through the curtain as Springtrap emerges dragging his body. Freddy recognises him and rages, charging Springtrap and the two animatronics fight. Veronica asks why and Mike says that Springtrap was the one who killed them. The two hide as a faceless Bonnie and scorched Chica appear and try to help Freddy fight Springtrap. Recalling the connections between the animatronics, Mike goes to Pirate Cove and decides to rebuild Fredbear to make Springtrap’s own ghost face his demons. Taking Fredbear to the supply room, they shove the endoskeleton into Fredbear’s suit with difficulty but it does not react. The Puppet appears and whispers something to Fredbear, causing it to react and stand with some difficulty.
Fredbear confronts Springtrap who has dismantled the others save Freddy, whose head he smashes apart. Springtrap pauses for a moment as Fredbear approaches. The two appear to share a moment, only for Springtrap to rip out Fredbear’s eyes and tear the top part of his head off. Fredbear collapses and Springtrap turns his attention to Mike and Veronica. Mike flashes his torch at Springtrap briefly stunning him, getting ready to run as the light and smoke from the gas fire starts to spread. However, the Puppet appears and raises his hands like a marionette would. The five fallen animatronics shudder and their eyes flicker back to life. The ghosts of the five children arise from the animatronics, Springtrap letting out a frightened shriek. The ghosts swarm Springtrap, entering his body and destroying the soul of their murderer.
Springtrap collapses, and the five spirits start to disappear. However, Fredbear’s ghost moves to the Puppet, taking his hand and freeing the child bound to the doll. Together, the six children vanish to the afterlife. Mike and Veronica take the opportunity to flee the diner before it burns to the ground. Hours later, the two sits alone watching fire crews salvaging the burnt out remains of the diner. Mike ventures through the wreckage, coming across the animatronics, advising the cops to search their bodies. He finds Fredbear and Springtrap’s bodies together. Kneeling down, Mike manages to place Fredbear and Springtrap’s hands together as son and father, and as reunited friends.
A week later, Mike and Veronica attend Steve’s funeral which coincidentally is happening on the same day as those of the children. Before Steve is buried, Mike slips in the Puppet’s body into the coffin, hoping it will keep him company. Afterwards, Veronica hands Mike his delayed paycheque, but Mike laughs when he finds he only earned $120. Veronica informs him that Fazbear Entertainment has declared bankruptcy but hopes to hand off their characters over to potential investors. The two walk away discussing their future, Mike commenting how he hopes to get a better paying job, and Veronica comments she has interest in starting her own business, asking Mike if he’s interested, claiming she might need a nightguard.
- Asa Butterfield as Mike Schmidt, the newly employed nightguard for Freddy Fazbear's Diner. He has memories of visiting the diner as a kid, but now he is an easily spooked high school graduate who becomes the latest target for the killer animatronics.
- T.J. Miller as Steve (aka Phone Guy), the guard who works the dayshift and former nightguard. He sends messages to Mike about the animatronics.
- Felicity Jones as Veronica Maxwell, the manager of the diner. She is a stubborn, argumentative woman who begrudgingly follows the protocols of the diner, but actually hates it, since her late father was a nightguard and was killed by the animatronics.
- Sharlto Copey as the Child Killer (aka the Purple Man), a former nightguard who murdered a number of children using the Springtrap suit.
- Jack Coleman as Gerald Fazberg, the son of the diner's founder. He has a share in the business but does not want to be involved running it.
The animatronics Freddy Fazbear, Bonnie, Chica, Foxy, Fredbear, Springtrap, Mangle, and the Puppet, would be portrayed through costumed actors, animatronics, puppetwork, or CGI. Such actors like Doug Jones and Brian Steele could portray them.
Admittedly, I have never played the games (too chicken to) but have watched enough playthroughs and done research to know much about the storyline. However, the story is very vague and open to a lot of interpretation/speculation and fan theories. So, some liberties and my own take were used for the synopsis. For example, the Bite of '87 and the murders took place in the same restaurant, Springtrap was used to kill the children, and the culprit of the Bite has been left vague to fuel speculation but several hints are laid down to give plenty of potential suspects - Foxy has a broken jaw, Golden Freddy lacks an exoskeleton, Freddy has handprints staining his body, etc. The character Gerald Fazberg was also introduced to explore the diner's past, and Veronica serves as a representative of the dodgy management but is not bound the selective obliviousness they have.
The action of the film is not limited to the security office, with Mike and co. traversing the whole diner for more elaborate moments but still incorporating elements of gameplay. Due to being a fan favourite, Foxy has a prominent role as an ally to Mike rather than an enemy. I had difficulty figuring out what to do for the ending, so I had the child killer return to smash up the animatronics and then play out his fate as seen in the third game where he becomes Springtrap, leaving the door open for a potential sequel that could include the other animatronics (the Toy characters, Mangle, Balloon Boy, Puppet, Springtrap).