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How The Five Nights At Freddy's Movie Can Redeem Overused Jump Scares In Horror

"Five Nights at Freddy's" is an insanely popular video game franchise that's finally getting the big-screen treatment. After years of languishing in development, Blumhouse is finally making a film come to fruition that will have a simultaneous release in theaters and on Peacock on October 27. There's a ton of anticipation built up toward the "Five Nights at Freddy's" movie, and regardless of format, plenty of people are going to see it. But it still begs the question of whether the film will be good and whether it'll utilize horror tropes adequately.

The biggest one is the jump scare. While often maligned by horror film enthusiasts, the "Five Nights at Freddy's" games perfected the tactic. As the player walks through a dark restaurant, their field of vision will often be hampered right before an evil animatronic comes out of nowhere to startle them. Players have come to expect them, but general audiences may be more reluctant to give the film a chance if it's over-reliant on this scare. Hopefully, the film uses the jump scare in innovative ways so that casual audiences aren't as turned off by the story. 

Five Nights at Freddy's is more than just jump scares

The "Five Nights at Freddy's" movie is going to be PG-13, and those types of horror films tend to overly rely on jump scares because they're a simple method of eliciting a fright without relying on gore or other materials you can't show in a PG-13 movie. With the games, the jump scares tend to work better because the player assumes the role of someone in first-person. They see directly what the character sees, making an animatronic lurking behind a door all the more sinister. A film likely won't have that perspective all of the time, so jump scares may not work as well. 

That doesn't mean the film should avoid them entirely, but they should be interspersed with other frightening images for an all-around haunting experience. The "Five Nights at Freddy's" games have plenty of terrifying moments, and even though it sounds like the movie will mostly adapt elements from the first game, there are many lessons to be learned throughout the series. From the use of lighting to fake-outs causing paranoia, there are numerous ways to amp up the sense of dread before hitting the audience with a jump scare so that it lasts longer in the mind.

The games also make excellent use of CCTV, having those screens take up the player's field of vision so that they don't see a jump scare coming. Many horror fans deride jump scares for being cheap and easy, but adding more substance to them could allow the "Five Nights at Freddy's" movie to stay true to its roots while scaring newcomers and veterans alike to the franchise.

The Five Nights at Freddy's trailer suggest plenty of different scares are on the way

The first trailer for "Five Nights at Freddy's" came out on May 16, and fans are ecstatic at how faithful it looks like it'll be to the original games. The pizzeria has a new night security guard, Mike (Josh Hutcherson), who quickly learns that not all is as it seems in this locale. He finds himself in a "Saw"-esque trap, and there are plenty of other frightening images that are bound to be even more terrifying in the context of the overall movie.

The trailer does suggest jump scares will be part of the proceedings. After all, there's one moment where the red eyes of an animatronic glare ominously through a doorway. Plus, there's the part at the end where a child hides in a ball pit, only to be quickly found by Freddy and his friends. 

It still remains to be seen if "Five Nights at Freddy's" will be among the jump scare greats in the horror genre. A study was actually conducted that found a scene in "Insidious" had the most effective jump scare of all time, with viewers' heart rates jumping to a staggering 133 beats per minute. It's a high bar to clear, but if there was any property up to the task, it's "Five Nights at Freddy's."