With the announcement of Five Nights At Freddy’s: Sister Location’s release date (9 days before my birthday too!) was reminded of the movie that’s on the horizon, but also the novel Scott wrote and released last December. If you follow the facebook page, you probably already know I just had to read through it.
When I caught word that Five Nights at Freddy’s was picked up by Warner Brothers and a movie was in the works, I groaned. They’re making a video game movie. Please, no. Not another one. I love you to death, Scott, but how is this going to even work?
Then I read Five Nights at Freddy’s: The Silver Eyes and my disposition changed.
There seems to be a general consensus that good video game movies are a rare occurrence. Depending upon what your preferences are, I can definitely understand how that may seem like the case. Then again I think we may be laying it on a little thick. Let’s take a quick look at some video game movies I’ve experienced.
Tomb Raider – Ok
Mortal Kombat – Good
Street fighter II: The animated movie: Good
Resident Evil – Meh
Doom – OK
Street Fighter: Chun Li: NO
House of the Dead – NO
As far as I’m concerned, good video game movies aren’t rare – it’s a mixed bag of good and bad. But I’d posit that trans-media movies are hit or miss in general. Remember “The Last Airbender”? What about “Edge of Tomorrow”? And this time a couple years from now, we’ll be adding Five Nights At Freddy’s: The Movie to their ranks.
The Silver Eyes follows the exploits of Charlie, Marla, Jessica, Lamar, Carlton and John as they reunite to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Freddy Frazbear tragedy that claimed their friend Michael as children in Hurricane, Utah
If you start reading the novel looking for more of what you received from the games, you’re going to be sorely disappointed. The games are about surviving. The novel is about understanding. Understanding the ramifications of the Freddy Frazbear horror for people and places outside of the night guard’s office.
By the game’s standard, the novel starts rather slow. The animatronics we know and love/hate don’t even show up for at least a quarter of the novel. Instead, we’re treated to the inner thoughts of Charlie. Her desire to forget her painful childhood, her disjointed memories and bittersweet relationship with her father and the mechanical marvels crafted by his hand that became the backbone of the franchise are on full display. No one needs to be convinced of the horror of Freddy Frazbear. Everyone remembers it; was shaped by it. They’d love to forget, but that’s a solace they’ve been denied – some to a greater degree than others. And the novel is glad to throw them back into the fire for another helping of it.
So why is Silver Eyes important? Why has it given me some hope for the FNAF movie? It isn’t because it’s the best the franchise has to offer. I’m a little ashamed to admit I found myself wishing near the end of the first half for an animatronic to just run in and murder someone. But I had to put myself in check because Silver Eyes is a novel and is trying to tell a story first and foremost. If I really need the sweet release of animatronic homicide (I don’t) I can play the games again (I’ll take a raincheck). Silver Eyes didn’t need to scare me, it needed to tell me a story about someone else who has been.
And that’s it. That’s why Silver Eyes is important. It tells a rather coherent story (or at least one that would be interesting to watch), something I think the series struggles with to a degree. Sure, it’s a different continuity than that of the games, but that’s a good thing. Scott leveraged this to fill in the negative continuity of the games. One of the big draws of the series was it’s sprawling lore. However, most of it, pilfered from the website’s html, Scott himself and background details from the games, was encountered as a trail of crumbs long enough to make Hansel and Gretel proud.
And I don’t think that would work very well for a movie. You have to tell a story in a traditional medium like a movie. Scavenger hunts don’t cut it. You can’t leave details out or screen your audience at the end of the second act and stop the movie if they haven’t groked enough of the story at that point to satisfy you. You must provide the pieces and put some of them together to make the beginning of a recognizable picture.
And Silver Eyes does that. It tells a bonafide, palpable story and the series (and I hope, by extension, the movie) is better for it.