Yes, Five Nights At Freddy’s Can Still Work As A PG-13 Movie

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Summary

  • The upcoming live-action Five Nights at Freddy’s movie is rated PG-13, which has sparked some backlash from fans. However, a PG-13 rating is suitable and allows the film to be edgier without being overly violent or gory.
  • The atmosphere and fear of the unseen were what made the Five Nights at Freddy’s games unnerving, and the movie adaptation should focus on recreating that experience for audiences. It doesn’t need to rely on explicit gore or violence to be effective.
  • Blumhouse, the production company behind the movie, has a track record of successful PG-13 horror films, such as M3GAN and the Happy Death Day movies. These films have managed to be creepy and suspenseful while pushing the boundaries of what a PG-13 rating can deliver.

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Some Five Nights at Freddy’s fans might be disappointed Blumhouse’s live-action adaptation is rated PG-13, but that really shouldn’t be an issue. The last decade has seen a marked uptick in the number of live-action video game adaptations. On average, they’ve been getting better too, as seen with HBO’s critically acclaimed The Last of Us or the Sonic the Hedgehog movies. The original Five Nights at Freddy’s game arrived in 2014, where players took control of a security guard trying to stay alive while facing constant attack by killer animatronics inside an abandoned children’s restaurant.

Five Nights at Freddy’s has since received countless sequels, and while its reliance on jump scares became a source of criticism, it can’t be denied it had a great atmosphere and unique villains. A live-action Five Nights at Freddy’s movie should have been simple to mount, but despite being developed by horror specialists Blumhouse, it spent years in development hell. The movie will finally arrive simultaneously in theaters and on Peacock in October 2023, with the MPA having rated it PG-13 for “strong violent content, bloody images, and language.”

Related: Five Nights At Freddy Movie Gets PG-13 Rating (Will It Be Scary Enough)


Five Nights At Freddy’s Doesn’t Need To Be R-Rated

Josh Hutcherson Five Nights at Freddy's

Naturally, there was some backlash to Five Nights at Freddy’s rating reveal on social media. Some fear the movie will be far too tame and lacking in bloody carnage, while others felt the PG-13 would prevent younger horror fans from being able to watch it. Ultimately, that sounds like the perfect rating for a Five Nights at Freddy’s movie; a PG-13 will allow it to be a little edgier, but it doesn’t need to be a gorefest either. This can be seen in the Five Nights at Freddy’s games themselves.

Many of the early titles were rated “T for Teen” and were largely lacking in bloodshed. It was the atmosphere and the fear of the unseen that made them so unnerving, and the Five Nights at Freddy’s adaptation need to focus on recreating that experience for movie audiences. There might be a fun version of the film that featured Freddy Fazbear, Bonnie and the rest of the animatronic gang ripping apart unsuspecting victims, but there’s never been what the game franchise was about.

The Five Nights At Freddy’s Movie Is Pushing PG-13 To Its Limit

Five Nights at Freddy's

From the MPA’s “strong violent content, bloody images, and language” description, it doesn’t sound like Blumhouse’s Five Nights at Freddy will be a tepid horror experience either. Again, the rating will prevent the violence from getting too nasty, but it appears the film will still be pushing PG-13 to the edge. Five Nights at Freddy’s cast Josh Hutcherson as protagonist Mike Schmidt, who is forced to take the security guard job to make ends meet, which sees him and his young daughter Abby (Piper Rubio) become targets for Freddy and the gang.

Five Nights at Freddy’s is also exploring the twisted backstory behind the animatronic creatures, and what their goal is. Any true adaptation of the game should be focused on suspense and tension building first and foremost – but that doesn’t mean it can’t get violent or nasty when it needs to. Recent efforts like Sam Raimi’s Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness or The Batman notably pushed the limits of what’s deemed acceptable in a PG-13 rating, and a lot of overt gore doesn’t mean it will be lacking in intensity.

M3GAN Proves PG-13 Horror Can Work

Killer doll M3GAN dressed in a long elegant coat standing in the forest admiring the piece of ear she's just ripped from the head of a young child

Blumhouse are also experts in crafting effective PG-13 horror. This can be seen in everything from The Purge to the Insidious franchises, but more specifically, 2022’s M3GAN feels like an indicator of how Five Nights at Freddy’s might pan out. M3GAN had a healthy dose of black humor, but it still managed to be creepy and suspenseful, while offering a meaner edge to the kills than other PG-13 slashers.

On that front, Blumhouse is also behind the Happy Death Day movies, which have more bite than the average teen-friendly horror flick. For horror fans, R-ratings are generally considered the top of the mountain, and since that list includes The Shining, Alien, The Thing, etc, the logic is hard to fault. However, it comes down to what a film is trying to achieve. The early Five Nights at Freddy’s games were created for young teens and relied more on fear of the dark than visceral scenes of gore.

The Five Nights at Freddy’s film simply doesn’t require an R-rating, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Few would argue horror offerings like The Quiet Place duology or Raimi’s Drag Me to Hell would substantially benefit from being upgraded to an R, and the fact they play with what a PG-13 rating can get away with is part of the fun. Five Nights at Freddy’s has been a long time coming, and it could be argued that’s affected hype around it, as the popularity of the games has waned somewhat. Still, if it recreates just some of the scares featured in the games, it will have been worth the wait.

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  • Five Nights at Freddy's Movie Poster