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What Could a Five Nights at Freddy's Sequel Be About? What We Can Learn From the Games
Don’t mess with a possessed bear in its pizza-palace lair… especially after dark.
Fright fans are in for a deep-dished slice of horror heaven this Halloween, thanks to a run-down pizza parlor and its nest of wickedly worse-for-wear animatronic animals — all with deadly scores to settle. Yep, we’re talking about the big movie premiere of Five Nights at Freddy’s, the Josh Hutcherson, Matthew Lillard-starring scary flick that started life as a sensationally creepy series of viral video games.
Main mascot Freddy Fazbear first greeted players when the original Five Nights at Freddy’s game released in 2014. But despite being less than a decade old, the franchise arrives in theaters (and streaming on Peacock!) with a perfectly-baked blend of accessible scares and deeply creepy story lore. Chalk it up to the original game’s buzzy success as an internet phenomenon, not to mention an ensuing stream of steady sequels. Since creator Scott Cawthon debuted his first murderous Five Nights gaming masterpiece, there’ve been seven mainline sequels in the series — not to mention an absolute horror buffet’s worth of smaller spinoffs and cross-platform re-releases.
Viewers don’t need to be gaming experts to dig into the movie’s special brand of horror, though director Emma Tammi has teased there are definitely plenty of fun Easter eggs and game-based shout-outs to reward the franchise’s legion of longtime loyal fans. But now that the movie is finally here, newcomers interested in dipping an intrepid toe into the scary world of the Five Nights video games could use a handy guide to the series’ eight mainline titles — along with what kind of demented danger to expect from each.
But this is a movie based on a video game series after all, so what could a potential follow-up be about (if they make one)? Let's dive into a beginner's guide rundown of the games, and along the way we might even pick up a clue or two about how the wider gaming-verse of FNaF (fans’ shorthand name for the franchise) could shape a potential movie sequel.
Possible Sequel Clues in the Five Nights at Freddy's Video Games
Five Nights at Freddy’s
Five Nights at Freddy’s caused a minor internet earthquake when it debuted in 2014, drawing freaked-out screams from popular YouTube influencers with its innovative wallop of “they’re out to get me!” paranoia, innocently placed within a deceptively kid-friendly pizza parlor setting. Playing as night-shift security guard Mike Schmidt (the same character Hutcherson plays in the movie), your pizza-protecting protagonist is stuck in a surveillance room with only an array of security cameras to help monitor his free-roaming animatronic stalkers. Which doors should you open? What if the power goes out? The first Five Nights at Freddy’s game arrived loaded with oodles of built-in jump scares, all while setting a blueprint that future installments could expand on.
Five Nights at Freddy’s 2
Thanks to the first game’s slashing success (and some nimble wizardry from game creator Cawthon), Five Nights at Freddy’s 2 landed only three months after its predecessor, framing its new story as a prequel to the original. Five Nights 2 sets up a different security guard named Jeremy for thankless graveyard-shift guard duty this time out, as a mysterious caller reveals that the restaurant's roving automatons have facial recognition software that lets them distinguish one human from another. Beyond that, the basic gameplay formula remains the same, even as a new mix of built-in mini-games begins to embellish the fledgling series’ sinister backstory... including the news that several kids might've died at the restaurant under mysterious circumstances at some point in the past.
Five Nights at Freddy’s 3
Five Nights at Freddy’s 3 leapt forward in time for the third game in the series, unfolding its scares at an entirely new kids’ attraction set 30 years after the events of the original. Just as before, survival horror is still the name of the, ahem, game, though your new animatronic antagonist is a human-sized rabbit named Springtrap. As future games (and even the movie itself) show, there’s more to Springtrap’s dark story than what you’ll discover playing through Five Nights at Freddy’s 3… but with wild new distractions (like your character actually hallucinating!), Jeremy has more pressing mysteries to solve if he wants to live long enough to see daylight. But as later games in the series suggest, Jeremy might not have been that lucky.
Five Nights at Freddy’s 4
In the biggest departure yet for the series, Five Nights at Freddy’s 4 scraps the whole kids’-attraction formula for a more unnervingly intimate change of pace: You’ll play through the entire thing as an isolated child in a bedroom. Instead of monitoring darkened corridors for signs of angry automatons, your unnamed silent protagonist must take cues from the immediate environment, eyeing doors and closets to get the jump on ill-intentioned murder-bots. Mini-games in Five Nights 4 tread into even darker territory than before when it comes to the wider FNaF story-verse, cracking the lore lid slightly wider to reveal more of the tragic and violent events that made these creatures into the killers they’ve become.
Five Nights at Freddy's: Sister Location
Sister Location is the first main game in the Five Nights series that unshackles the player from their all-observing stationary perch, allowing you to move between rooms as needed to dodge the franchise’s characteristic evil automatons.
The story in this fifth installment indeed unfolds at an alternate “sister location” rental store apart from Freddy Fazbear’s pizzeria, where a strange new character named “Circus Baby” guides your way through successive night shifts filled with — you guessed it! — murderous animal animatronics. The game covers a lot of story ground in revealing more of the disturbing tale of the mysterious William Afton character who’s been lurking in the background since the first Five Nights title, with the implicit understanding that this won’t be the last time you’ll be hearing from him. As you watch the movie, it might even help to put a reminder asterisk beside that particular game-based detail.
Freddy Fazbear's Pizzeria Simulator
The name is different, and so is the concept — at least, up to a point. Freddy Fazbear's Pizzeria Simulator presents itself as an actual business-management simulation experience, though the franchise’s signature survival horror element eventually ends up dominating the proceedings.
Before you know it, you’ll be leaning heavily on your flashlight tool to make sure creepy-crawly critters aren’t coming out of the restaurant’s ductwork, all while discovering there’s a solid, story-related reason (no spoilers!) why these possessed robo-animals keep coming back, game after game, to haunt you. It’s safe to say, though, that there’s an unshakable bond between these creatures and certain key people… a fact the movie explores in ways that are equal parts tragic and terrifying.
Five Nights at Freddy's: Help Wanted
In what may be the most meta-clever concept in the series, Five Nights at Freddy's: Help Wanted uses a virtual reality perspective to immerse players in a backstory laced with shades of corporate cynicism. Your character discovers that Fazbear Entertainment has cooked up an impossibly upbeat video game of its own to polish the company’s ominous image, the better to diffuse all the negative publicity stemming from its bloody track record.
Mini-games based on earlier Five Nights titles form much of Help Wanted’s actual gameplay, with players gaining more insights into the strange, sinister link between by-now familiar characters and the company’s hidden history. The game contains a giant grab-bag of past Five Nights story lore, too, while unveiling new details on the possessed animatronic entity (known as Glitchtrap in this game) who seems to share a persistently evil agenda with the always-mysterious William Afton.
Five Nights at Freddy's: Security Breach
Freed once more to roam on your own — only this time inside a sprawling shopping mall — players in Five Nights at Freddy's: Security Breach lock in for a nighttime dose of vaguely 1980s-themed rock ’n’ roll animatronic homicide. The action all takes place at the mall in one evening (rather than the conventional five-night setup) with Gregory — your new-to-the series player character — evading glam-rock versions of the familiar killer robo-dolls from earlier titles.
In a new series twist, Gregory even gets to team up with Freddy Fazbear himself, inhabiting the automaton’s exoskeleton as a form of danger-dodging cover. But wait! Does that mean these bloodthirsty robots might actually be hiding a less-murderous side to their possessed personalities? It’s a feature that plays a prominent role in the Five Nights at Freddy’s film itself, as is the Security Breach introduction of Vanessa: the mall security officer who inspires the same-but-different movie version played in the film by Elizabeth Lail.
No matter how far down the FNaF gaming rabbit hole you might fall, it’s officially game on at the movies: Five Nights at Freddy’s is now playing in theaters and streaming on Peacock, so grab your movie tickets here... and be sure to stick around through the credits!