Horror movies tend to lean on the darker side of cinema as they explore all the spooky things that go bump in the night to shine a light on the wicked parts of humanity. As a result, most have earned themselves an R rating from the Motion Picture Association of America, but Five Nights at Freddy’s has opted to tone down the violence and gore to achieve a more family-friendly PG-13 rating akin to its roots as a kid-friendly horror game. It’s a bold decision that puts it at odds with most of its genre and we found ourselves wondering if it was the right call for the movie.
We can definitely see the reasoning behind keeping the violence and gore toned down in the Five Nights at Freddy's film. There is a young, eager fanbase for the franchise that has helped prop up its marketing during the ongoing actors’ strike in Hollywood. A PG-13 rating allows the existing fans of Five Nights at Freddy’s to go see it at the theater without getting the odd side-eye from the box office. If we want more from the series in the future, getting these fans through the door for this entry is key.
By toning down the gore and eschewing the profanity that would have earned them an R from the MPAA, Five Nights at Freddy’s can position itself as a gateway film for a whole new generation of horror fans in the same way that the Goosebumps series did for readers in the 90s. Five Nights at Freddy’s PG-13 rating as a horror film puts it in respectable company as well. Films like M3GAN, Gremlins, and The Ring as films that have excelled at horror with a PG-13 rating.
Even with all those perfectly logical facts in our mind, we can't help but imagine the potential for an R-rated Five Nights at Freddy’s movie. The film's concept lends itself to gruesome attacks from animatronic monsters and curse-laden screams of terror from the victims. Considering the dark places that the games’ lore goes, there is potential for some truly horrifying imagery to be included, which would only be possible with an R rating from the MPAA.
The wonderful juxtaposition between the cute, cuddly characters like Freddy and Foxy and their acts of unimaginable violence could have worked beautifully to hammer home the creepy tone of the original games. By toning down that violence, the studio risks missing the absurdity and horror that has made Five Nights at Freddy’s one of the most unique gaming experiences in the genre.
Ultimately, Five Nights at Freddy’s rating isn’t going to be what makes or breaks its theatrical run. How well it delivers its scares and appeals to fans of the games will generate the buzz it needs to convince studios to invest in more movies. While it will probably have better success at the box office with a PG-13 rating, we still fondly imagine the potential horrors the Jim Henson Creature Workshop could unleash if Five Nights at Freddy's got the R rating it deserves.
The Five Nights at Freddy's phenomenon is lasting longer than five nights. Get up to speed, with how to stream the movie, details on the characters and lore, getting to know the FNAF animatronics, how it fits in the canon of the games, talks of sequels, how Chuck E. Cheese is responding, and even a guide to how to play all the FNAF games.'
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