How Five Nights at Freddy's Can Add More Horror In The Movie Sequel

How scary is scary enough for the Five Nights at Freddy's movies, and how do they get there?

While Blumhouse's long-awaited Five Nights at Freddy's adaptation did exceedingly well in theaters, performing far beyond the studio's expectations and ultimately performing well enough to secure a sequel, a lot of reviews from critics and audiences tended to agree that the horror movie could use more of one thing in particular: horror. With a PG-13 it is, of course, limited from being full of gore...but the thing is with Five Nights at Freddy's, it doesn't need to be. There are plenty of PG-13 titles that have the tension, the anxiety, and the sense of overall dread that Five Nights at Freddy's should have – The Ring and Insidious franchises, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, A Quiet Place...just to name a few. 

And these exact tones are exactly what FNAF needs. The original game inserted players into a situation where it was easy to get stuck in dark corners not knowing what had joined you in the room – it consistently manages to remind players that while they're playing a game they're not fully in-control of the situation, introducing new rules to prevent patterns from becoming clear. And while things are pretty hairy for Mike and Abby for a bit in the movie, ultimately it never really feels like the situation is "out of control."

Further, there are uncomfortable stretches in the game where the anxiety sits heavy as you try to anticipate what's to come, the tension threatening to pop like a balloon the moment an animatronic jumpscare occurs. I don't think I'm alone in saying this was never a feeling that movie managed to replicate.

Five Nights at Freddy's simply needed more horror elements to feel like it fully belonged in the genre – while there are absolutely some moments that have audiences on edge they are often fleeting at best, none of them truly lasting long enough to contribute toward some greater sense of dread.

I do think a contributing factor to this is that, unfortunately, a lot of the scares in Five Nights at Freddy's needed to be rushed in order to give the movie room to establish lore it felt the audience needed to get things rolling. Fortunately, now that the lore has been fairly well established for this particular story, we can likely see a focus shift away from long monologues and explanations to long shifts alone, in the dark. If Five Nights at Freddy's 2 can simply extend scenes where the animatronics are chasing and toying with eventual victims this will go a long way toward making audiences feel the way they did when they played the game: unsafe.

The tone is never quite consistently unsettling enough to convince its audience they're watching a horror movie, but Blumhouse has plenty of opportunity to achieve this in the sequel. FNAF isn't about the blood, it's about the atmosphere, and ultimately what it needs is to translate more of the elements from the games that have been so successful in pulling the reaction it intends from its audience: putting them on edge.

New Animatronics

Fortunately, we've already received confirmation that some additional animatronics are being worked on currently, and more versions of Freddy Fazbear and friends will certainly open up far more opportunities for scares...particularly with the teased characters we've seen already. Days before the sequel was officially confirmed Jason Blum shared a photo to social media featuring a Jim Henson's Creature Shop employee working on models for the sequel, notably appearing to be actively working on Mangle with parts to Toy Bonnie present as well.

This is promising enough to indicate a scarier tone for the sequel, as Mangle is without a doubt one of the scarier animatronics featured in the franchise, and while Toy Bonnie himself may not be scary, in my personal opinion his presence indicates the existence of another animatronic with a lot of fear factor – Withered Bonnie.

First, let's discuss Mangle, what was once the new and improved version of Foxy. Mangle's design is the perfect chance to introduce horrifying chase scenes and jumpscares, their long legs providing even more possibilities for movement (though of course challenges will be presented by the movies using actual animatronics and not animating them in). Imagine a scene where Mangle is running toward a potential victim as fast as possible, or a jumpscare where they dangle from the ceiling, or using the vents...

The opportunities with Mangle alone should hopefully provide plenty of opportunity for scares, but as mentioned there are other new additions such as "Toy" versions of the other animatronics. It is these "Toy" versions that lead to Withered Bonnie being as horrifying as he is – with his face ripped off and used for his counterpart, the original Bonnie's exposed double rows of bottom teeth and glowing red eyes are unsettling enough standing in a dark corner, much less when he starts chasing his chosen victim.

And finally, another animatronic that we have no official confirmation of that I hope we see is another new addition to the Five Nights at Freddy's 2 game: The Puppet. The Puppet's design is inherently terrifying enough that simply including the character should send a shiver down audience's spines, but this is a specific design I can really see Blumhouse embracing and running wild with (make it a bit unhinged like another Blumhouse title, M3GAN). 

How would you add more horror into Five Nights at Freddy's 2? Chat with me about it on X @amazingspidrhan!