- The Five Nights at Freddy’s movie aimed for a PG-13 rating to include a younger audience and used creative techniques to depict kills without showing gore.
- Fans of the game are more accepting of the lighter rating as it stays true to the source material’s lack of on-screen violence.
- Despite the PG-13 rating, the movie can still be terrifying with effective jump scares and creative filmmaking, as shown by other successful horror franchises with similar ratings.
Despite being comprised of a host of murderous animatronics, co-writer/director Emma Tammi explains why the Five Nights at Freddy’s movie didn’t aim for an R-rating. Anticipation is high for the adaptation of the hit horror video game franchise, which put players in the shoes of a night security guard at the eponymous family entertainment center trying to survive the night against the possessed animatronics that roam the restaurant. Creator Scott Cawthon has co-written the script with the movie, with Josh Hutcherson leading the ensemble Five Nights at Freddy’s cast alongside Elizabeth Lail, Piper Rubio, Mary Stuart Masterson, and Matthew Lillard.
Ahead of its release, Inverse caught up with Tammi to break down Five Nights at Freddy’s. When asked about the movie’s PG-13 rating, the co-writer/director explained that the creative team never wanted to aim for an R rating, which led to determining a variety of creative processes to deliver the movie’s high body count in order to assure they weren’t leaving out a younger demographic. See what Tammi explained below:
We were trying to push it as far as we could while still retaining that PG-13 rating. That meant the kills needed to be executed in a certain way. And while it is so fun in many slasher films to see all the guts and the gore, it is also really fun to figure out creative ways to show these moments without showing all the details. In some cases, we leaned into shadows and silhouettes and sound design to really feel the moment in an impactful way without showing any gore. So that is something that I had a lot of fun doing, and actually really appreciated that we were taking the PG-13 approach for this because there’s such a younger audience for FNAF, and we didn’t want to exclude them.
How Five Nights At Freddy’s Can Terrify Without Gore
The initial announcement of Five Nights at Freddy’s earning a PG-13 rating was met with some division from horror genre fans keen on seeing Freddy Fazbear and his crew go on a bloody rampage. Those familiar with the games, however, have been far more accepting of the lighter rating, given it would stay truer to the source material’s lack of on-screen violence.
Having been produced almost exclusively by Cawthon, the original game largely became a viral hit for its usage of jump scares to terrify players, with the various animatronics racing to the Freddy’s Pizzeria security room to stuff the player character into a suit. Between suddenly appearing in a camera in a new place to poking their faces through the neighboring windows, the shock of their quick arrival made for laugh-inducing scares as many YouTube gamers would release videos of them playing the various entries. The tension was further elevated by the management of power, only having so much electricity to check the various cameras and close the security doors to keep the animatronics out.
Though much of the marketing for the Five Nights at Freddy’s movie has hyped the body count Freddy and his friends rack up during its runtime, should Cawthon, Tammi and their team stay true to faithfully adapting the games, it can be just as terrifying with its PG-13 rating as with an R rating. Across five installments, the Insidious franchise, also produced by Blumhouse, has frequently proven how creative filmmaking and effective jump scares can be executed with a PG-13 rating. Additionally, with the movie already tracking to beat both The Exorcist: Believer and Saw X in its early box office projections, it’s clear this lighter rating hasn’t affected audience anticipation.