For many fans of a certain age, the most anticipated upcoming horror movie from the Halloween season and beyond is Five Nights at Freddy’s, the first live-action adaptation of the hugely popular video game series that has become a merchandising monolith over the years. While the lore filling out the games, novels, and short story collections aren’t nearly as dense as the MCU’s multiverse, it can still be quite a lot to take in for anyone who isn’t already familiar with the dark and deadly world of Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza.
Which is what we’re doing here, of course: laying the laymen’s details that moviegoers should have in mind before going to see Five Nights at Freddy’s, especially those who haven’t been watching playthroughs and studying up on easter eggs in the years since the first game debuted in August 2014. (With franchise creator Scott Cawthon serving as EP and co-screenwriter, you know there will be easter eggs.) So let’s get to know this universe a little bear-ter!
Meet Security Guard Mike Schmidt
Introduced in the first game, and later brought back in multiple sequels, the seemingly everyday Mike Schmidt is one of presumably many unlucky applicants looking to get a job handling the overnight shift at the now defunct restaurant and entertainment center known as Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza. Not a whole lot is initially known about Mike during his weeklong security guard gig, though his later appearances provided some speculation-spawning surprises and connections.
The film’s version, as portrayed by Hunger Games vet Josh Hutcherson, also goes by the name Mike Schmidt, and since it’s unclear if the live-action iteration will go down the same narrative avenue’s as the source material, we’ll consider those spoilers for now. The big change that we do know of, however, is that Hutcherson’s Mike is being accompanied by his much younger sister named Abby (Piper Rubio).
The two-handed approach wasn’t tackled on the gaming side of things, but could potentially be the movie’s way of addressing some of the events in Five Nights at Freddy’s 4, which features a young child as the core protagonist facing a series of minigames. But then there’s also a more direct connection the movie could make, assuming Abby is only her nickname…
Meet The Animatronics: Freddy, Bonnie, Chica And Foxy
The core animatronic foursome at the center of Five Nights at Freddy’s includes the titular brown bear mascot Freddy Fazbear with his signature top hat and tie; the guitar-playing indigo bunny Bonnie; the yellow bib-wearing chicken back-up singer Chica (and her Mr. Cupcake side-snack); and the red pirate fox Foxy, whose eyepatch and hook-hand make her not so ideal for being part of the band.
At first, the idea was that the various animatronics needed to be engaged during the overnight hours to prevent their servomotors from malfunctioning due to staying motionless. But as the games’ lore and storytelling evolved over time, the real cause was revealed to be that the animatronics are actually possessed by the spirits of murdered children whose deaths were directly connected to the restaurant and its mysterious cofounder.
Blumhouse’s Five Nights at Freddy’s looks to be leaning far more in the direction of kid-possessed robots, which is hinted at in the FNAF trailer and other promos. And that hopefully means we’ll be seeing a few of the core characters’ modified and increasingly frightening iterations that get introduced in later games, such as Golden Freddy, Spring Bonnie, and/or Mangle, to name a few.
The Fazbear Entertainment Brand Isn’t Limited To Just The Pizza Restaurant
Though the series and its film adaptation start off focusing on a single Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza location, it is revealed to be one of many kid-focused eateries bearing the mascot’s name and likeness through the 1980s and presumably beyond. The third game introduces the horror-geared attraction Fazbear’s Fright, Sister Location is set within Circus Baby’s Entertainment and Rental, and the sequel Security Breach features the biggest location lf all: Freddy Fazbear’s Mega Pizzaplex, which is a huge mall filled with themed settings and attractions. (That game also plays up the Glamrock versions of the core squad, with Montgomery Gator taking Bonnie’s place.)
It’s unclear how far the first Five Nights film will take the backstory of the central funzones, though the flashback scenes in the trailer imply that there have been problems with the place for years, even if Mike & Co. don’t seem to be automatically aware of its possibly haunted history. But if the movie ends with a teaser for a job opening up at Circus Baby Entertainment, you’ll be ready for it.
Matthew Lillard’s Character Is Pivotal To The Story
While the cast of FNAF also includes Once Upon a Time vet Elizabeth Lail as officer Vanessa Monroe and Fried Green Tomatoes standout Mary Stuart Masterson as Mike’s Aunt Jane, Scream star Matthew Lillard’s casting was arguably the most vital of them all. As the star most in line with other horror franchises, Lillard was surprisingly revealed straightaway to be playing the game universe’s overarching antagonist, a wicked gent by the name of William Afton. Why that was shocking in and of itself is that the trailers have shown him to be playing someone named Steve Raglan, which is no doubt some kind of false identity being used to throw others off of his scent, though would have been more effective if it wasn’t already retconned before we knew about it.
Another reason why the early reveal was a surprise is that the villainous brand magnate hasn’t ever had a full-on appearance in the game series, and has appeared only as nickname-sparking purple silhouette, or through references in written and audio media found within the games. As such, Lillard’s trailer appearance is technically the first time any Five Nights at Freddy’s fans have seen him up close and personal, even if he’s not being touted as such.
At the risk of getting too spoilery, William Afton is most certainly the cause for much (if not all) of the horrors that plague the various Fazbear locations. And he’s also very personally involved with one of the games’ freakiest, and thus most beloved, creations, Springtrap, who may or may not have been teased in the trailers released so far.
After all that talk, it’s time to check out the second Five Nights at Freddy’s trailer below!
Five Nights at Freddy’s will debut in theaters on Friday, October 28, while also streaming same-day for everyone with a Peacock subscription.