Josh Hutcherson
Josh Hutcherson Image Credit: Supplied

Hollywood horror flick ‘Five Nights at Freddy’s’, takes off from developer Scott Cawthon’s “intentionally terrifying” game that puts players into the shoes of a night watchman, hired to look after the abandoned theme-style Freddy Fazbear’s Pizzeria.

In ‘Five Nights ...,' Josh Hutcherson plays watchman Mike Schmidt, a troubled young man dealing with his demons and responsible for his 10-year-old sister, Abby (Piper Rubio).

The film follows his scary adventures as he begins working at Freddy’s. On the first night on the job, Schmidt realises that the night shift at Freddy’s won’t be an easy one. Hutcherson lets us in on what it was like to make a terrifying horror game phenomenon become a blood-chilling cinematic event, that is out in UAE cinemas this Thursday. Excerpts from an interview with the lead star:

Five Nights at Freddy's
A still from 'Five Nights at Freddy's'. Image Credit: Supplied

How would you describe 'Five Nights at Freddy’s'?

It’s not an easy movie to describe because so much happens. For me, 'Five Nights at Freddy’s' is basically about a guy that is running away from past trauma and searching for answers, who gets a job as a night security guard working at this abandoned pizzeria from the eighties. Then, once inside, madness ensues and his dream world becomes more vivid when he meets these twisted yet friendly, messed up, cuddly-type creatures that are trying to kill people.

Before getting involved in this project, what was your connection with the original video game this film is based on?

I actually had zero experience with the game before this came into my world, but when I found out the movie was being made and that I would be a part of it, I went online and saw all the fandom and lore behind it. It’s out of this world!

How would you describe your character, Mike Schmidt?

I see him as a guy that has the weight of the world on his shoulders. He’s trying to support his younger sister, by being sort of a father figure to her, while at the same time dealing with his own personal issues and looking for a way to change his past throughout this story.

So, what state of mind is Mike in when we meet him?

When we start the story, Mike is just trying to make things work in his life, but he’s not finding that very easy. He doesn’t have a job, and he has to take care of his younger sister. Also, he’s searching for answers to his past trauma in his dreams, so he’s not in the best of states. And then, when he gets this new job, he kind of feels like maybe things can turn around, but they don’t…

What was your creative process like for this complex role?

My process with Mike was about finding a way to make him and his story very grounded, as the world of 'Five Nights at Freddy’s' is larger than life. So, for me it was about getting into the headspace of who Mike is and what he really wants from life and from this experience. And because the game has such fantastical and terrific elements, blending those two worlds together is tonally a challenge, but I think filmmaker Emma Tammi and the creator of the game, Scott Cawthon, found a way to do it.

And how would you describe the relationship Mike has with his younger sister, Abby?

It’s complex. I think that anybody Mike’s age that has lost his parents and must now face the responsibility of taking care of a younger sibling would be ill prepared. On top of that, he doesn’t have the right set up to provide stability or the patience and emotional intelligence required to properly raise a kid. So, he’s not in a good spot, but I believe that what they are going through brings them closer together.

Five Nights at Freddy's
A scene from 'Five Nights at Freddy's'. Image Credit: Supplied

How was it to see the animatronic characters of 'Five Nights at Freddy’s' come to life?

It was incredible! Going into this after reading the script and seeing the video game made me imagine what they could look like, but then what Jim Henson’s Creature Shop has done is simply phenomenal. When I first saw them, I was blown away. They have that special texture and quality that only Henson’s company can do, being weirdly realistic and yet almost cartoonish at the same time. It was crazy to see them actually come to life. They could be terrifying when they haunted my character or cute with his little sister, Abby. It really helped to be acting opposite these creatures and not just looking at a tennis ball on a stand or something. So, even though working with animatronics can have its ups and downs, in this case, it was an incredible experience because I had something physical and real to interact with.

Five Nights at Freddy's
Piper Rubio in a still from 'Five Nights at Freddy's'. Image Credit: Supplied

Speaking of Abby, what can you say of Piper Rubio’s performance in that role and of your chemistry as siblings?

Working with Piper was incredible and I felt we established that brother/sister dynamic in a beautiful way. I haven’t really worked with many kids since being an adult, but we managed to create a special relationship, even though at times it was difficult only because we were having so much fun. Piper Rubio is an absolute joy to be around and she’s so talented. I loved those moments when she was thinking about the role because she has a lot of creative ownership over her work. Our director, Emma Tammi, would come over and ask if she was okay and Piper would explain that she was thinking about maybe changing the line. She was so tuned into where Abby was in the story – it was just incredible to be a part of that.

And what did a filmmaker like Emma Tammi bring to it all as a director?

When you have a movie like 'Five Nights at Freddy’s', that is so heightened and surreal and complicated tonally, you need a director like Emma who’s always searching for the truth. I mean, she’s great at knowing where the camera needs to be to tell the story as well — on top of that, finding the emotional truth in such a chaotic environment is never an easy thing, and she’s always looking for it because she knows it’s vital.

Did you enjoy shooting the film in New Orleans?

The shoot was great. New Orleans is a city that is full of amazing food, nightlife, and music. There’s just something very cool about a place that feels so alive and has a bit of an edge to it too — which helped me get in the headspace of a character like Mike, who’s going through a lot.

So, what can we expect from 'Five Nights at Freddy’s'?

A very unexpected movie, constantly taking turns. You’re going to be scared, there might be some laughter, and then you’re going to experience some touching moments as well. And the hardcore fans of the franchise can rest assured, knowing that we have taken care of their world and its characters because Scott Cawthon – the creator of the game – was heavily involved in every scene we shot. I think that combining the terror elements with the grounded performances and characters is going to make for a very complete and well-rounded film.

And why do you believe it is important to enjoy it with an audience in a theatre?

For me, there’s almost nothing better than watching a scary movie with an audience. I think there’s a version where you can sit at home cuddled up in the dark, but then you can always pause it. Only in a theatre are you truly allowing yourself to be transported somewhere else.

Don’t Miss It!

‘Five Nights At Freddy’s’ is out in UAE cinemas on October 26.