Film Friday: ‘Five Nights at Freddy’s,’ ‘Pain Hustlers,’ ‘When Evil Lurks,’ and More

ENTERTAINMENTBy 2024-01-24T16:17:55-05:00October 27th, 2023|
  • "Five Nights at Freddy's." Courtesy of Universal.

Alright, everybody, we made it. Halloweekend is here and, unsurprisingly, there are a slew of horror movies coming out, big and small. Shudder, the streaming service dedicated to horror, is having a field day this weekend, releasing two of the most exciting genre offerings we’ve seen all year. Elsewhere, we have an adaptation of one of the most popular horror games of all time, one that terrified an entire generation of players and will probably continue to do so for years to come.

“Five Nights at Freddy’s” (In Theaters and on Peacock)

Is it just us, or is there not enough Josh Hutcherson anymore? It seemed like he was in everything around the time that “The Hunger Games” came out in 2012. However, over the last few years, he’s kind of faded from the spotlight, doing mostly supporting roles in film with a couple of significant TV roles in the mix. And it’s not because he isn’t talented (he is) or because he’s not still handsome (he definitely is). Maybe he just needs a new agent. Regardless, his big-screen return in “Five Nights at Freddy’s,” the cinematic adaptation of the beloved horror game, is almost as exciting as the movie itself.

Because the game has such a straightforward premise, the movie does, too. A guy gets hired as the overnight security for a creepy arcade with animatronic animals that closely resemble the Chuck E. Cheese characters who used to scare the s*** out of us as kids. The only difference is, at Freddy’s, the seemingly robotic animals do actually come to life and kill you. Based on the trailer, the film will incorporate some of the deeper lore from the games, and flesh out the central character. But we’re not here for explanations. We’re here for scares. And it seems like “Five Nights at Freddy’s” has more than a few to spare.

“When Evil Lurks” (Shudder)

During its limited theatrical release earlier this month, “When Evil Lurks” gained a bit of a cult reputation for being one of the best underground horror films of the year. Now, it’s making its small-screen debut on Shudder, the streaming service all about horror. This one comes courtesy of “Terrified” director Demián Rugna, the brilliant Argentine filmmaker who seems to just get better and better with each subsequent film.

The film centers around a demon who goes on a terror spree against an entire town of people, hunting them down one by one, with an insatiable appetite for death and destruction. There are echoes of movies like “Bird Box” or “The Happening,” where an invisible force possesses people to kill themselves or those around them, but “When Evil Lurks” really does seem like something we’ve never seen before.

“Pain Hustlers” (Netflix)

Netflix’s campaign against the pharmaceutical industry continues with “Pain Hustlers,” a new original production starring Emily Blunt and Chris Evans. The movie is basically “The Wolf of Wall Street” but instead of selling flimsy stocks, Blunt’s character doles out pills like they’re breath mints. The character quickly sees the fruits of her labor in the form of an ungodly amount of money, but is forced to confront the havoc she’s wreaked on families across the country as she becomes more and more embroiled in unethical practices that amount to a pretty serious federal crime.

“Suitable Flesh” (Shudder)

Shudder is really killing it this weekend. In addition to “When Evil Lurks,” a new Shudder original called “Suitable Flesh” is also opening this weekend. Based on a story by H.P. Lovecraft, the film follows a psychiatrist (played by Heather Graham) who becomes completely consumed by one of her patients. Turns out, her obsession may be linked to a curse that goes back centuries, a curse that may be coming for her next.

If you’ve seen any of Graham’s work, you’ll know she’s one of the most fearless actors working today. She always gives 100% of herself to every role and never disappoints. “Suitable Flesh” is no exception. Judging by the trailer, there’s definitely a classic, almost campy vibe to this one, as opposed to the modern, slick style of “When Evil Lurks.” Regardless, it seems like a Shudder double feature is in order.

“Four Daughters” (In Theaters)

Last but not least, we have a fascinating new documentary following a family of Arab women coping with loss by reenacting critical moments in their lives in pursuit of some kind of closure. Of the four daughters mentioned in the title, two of them decided to forsake their faith and pursue modernity, while the other two continued to live at home with their mother. The film’s director then introduces two actors to play the two daughters who left home, giving everyone an opportunity to have the conversations they wish they could have had before they left.

Josef Rodriguez is a writer, filmmaker, and film critic living in New York City.