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Five Nights At Freddy's: The Movie's Biggest Changes From The Games

Contains spoilers for "Five Nights At Freddy's"

"Five Nights At Freddy's" had a spectacular debut in theaters and streaming services, breaking box office records for PG-13 horror and video game adaptations. Fans seem to be pretty happy with the adaptation of the hit video game series, even though it takes some liberties with the original plotline. This is not completely surprising, as the series' lore has become infamously convoluted in the nine years since it all began. Some elements had to be altered or trimmed down for the sake of time and efficiency as a film.


According to director Emma Tammi, franchise creator Scott Cawthon co-signed on all of the big lore changes in the film, which should put fans more at ease. Tammi told /Film, "I hope that people feel like the fabric and the feeling of 'Freddy's' is completely woven into the movie and delivers on the thing that they wanted, but also is surprising and new and different as well. We were really lucky to be working with Scott [Cawthon] on this, so his instincts for what was going to resonate with the fans, I really trust."

So what did "Five Nights At Freddy's" do with the material that turned out to be "surprising and new and different?" Well, aside from streamlining certain aspects of the series' timeline, the movie mainly altered the familial attachments and personalities of various characters. Suffice it to say that the Afton family tree got a serious overhaul in the story's journey to the big screen.


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William Afton lives -- and is hiding in plain sight

Let's start with the villainous William Afton, played with maniacal glee by horror icon Matthew Lillard. As in the games, Afton is the former owner of the pizzeria populated by Freddy Fazbear and the other killer animatronics. The film also keeps the disturbing backstories of Freddy and the gang pretty much intact, explaining that they are possessed by the spirits of children murdered by William Afton. However, Afton is long dead by the time the games kick off, with his malevolent spirit still possessing the Springtrap animatronic.


In the film, William Afton hides in plain sight for a while, posing as a normal career advisor named Steve Raglan. He's the one who gets Mike Schmidt (Josh Hutcherson) his job at Freddy Fazbear's Pizza, seemingly with the goal of killing Mike's younger sister, Abby (more on her later). Rather than being killed by his animatronics at some point in the past, Afton was able to go into hiding by using his Steve Raglan persona. Of course, his evil doesn't go unpunished for long, and the end of the film implies that he may have befallen a fate very similar to his video game counterpart.

Mike Schmidt has a new family

In the games, Mike Schmidt sought out his security job at the pizzeria to stop William Afton, who is eventually revealed to be Mike's father in later installments. The movie does away with this motivation, instead explaining that Mike needs to nail down steady employment in order to maintain custody of Abby (Piper Rubio), who is sort of an amalgamation of various characters from the games. If he can't, he runs the risk of losing Abby to his scheming Aunt Jane, a character created specifically for the film. 


That's not to say that Mike's backstory has been completely changed. Much like in the games, Mike is haunted by the mysterious death of a sibling. Elizabeth Afton is shown to be Mike's younger sister (and William's daughter) in "Five Nights At Freddy's: Sister Location," where it's revealed she was killed by the Circus Baby animatronic, which then housed her soul until it was finally destroyed. It's worth noting that Abby is almost stuffed into Circus Baby in the movie, bringing the character eerily closer to Elizabeth than she first appears. 

Additionally, Mike constantly receives visions of his dead brother Garrett, who was murdered by William Afton years before the events of the film. Given the fact that some elements of Mike's past line up with the lore of the video games, it's possible that future movies will introduce his true relationship to William Afton. For now, it appears as though the serial killer is not Mike's father in this version of the story. Instead, the dubious honor of being William's kid is given to another unexpected character...


Vanessa's dark secret

Vanessa was introduced to the games in "Five Nights At Freddy's: Help Wanted," and it quickly becomes clear that she's hiding a huge secret. Though she appears to be a meek and mild-mannered security guard, Vanessa also has a dark side: She's actually a murderer with a record nearly as prolific as William Afton's, taking the nickname "Vanny" and wearing a striking white rabbit suit when she commits her crimes. Though some fans have speculated that Vanessa may also be one of Afton's children, that has yet to be confirmed in the games. 


The "Five Night's At Freddy's" movie makes that connection entirely unambiguous with the late reveal that Elizabeth Lail's Vanessa is William Afton's daughter, who was traumatized after seeing one of her father's brutal murders. Vanessa finally stands up to her father during the film's climactic final act, which results in her getting brutally stabbed and ending up in a coma. It remains to be seen if Vanessa will recover from her injuries — and what she'll be like when she finally wakes up. Perhaps a sequel will introduce the "Vanny" side of her personality and set her down a path of revenge.

Freddy and the gang are ... kind of nice sometimes?

Make no mistake: The animatronics at Freddy Fazbear's Pizza are still possessed by the vengeful spirits of dead children in the movie. The last chunk of the film establishes that William Afton has been able to control them for years, sending them one victim after another and growing their numbers in secret. However, that doesn't stop the robotic animals from being weirdly sweet in some scenes. Though Mike is clearly not happy about it, the animatronics seem to have a playful friendship with Abby early on in the film, tickling her and even helping to build a pillow fort in a bizarrely wholesome sequence.


Of course, this is probably all just a way to lure Mike into a false sense of security (no pun intended), ensuring that he never suspects the attacks that are coming. These lighter moments also remind us that these robots are in fact haunted by ghost kids. Regardless, this is a far cry from their nighttime behavior in the games, which is rarely helpful or benevolent. Some fans have been delighted by these sequences, while others have been completely taken out of the film. It's easy to see why, in either case.