To understand why Five Nights at Freddy’s world is so popular, one must unravel the fandom and phenomenon that has captivated the horror genre. After almost a decade, this franchise has developed a very dedicated and fervent fanbase, and for those that didn’t know, the iconic game is now even being made into a horror film—gracing the big screen a mere few days before Halloween this year. To say it will be bloody, violent, and disturbing is an understatement, and we can’t wait to see it! In the meantime, we wanted to discuss if its anticipation is perhaps cult-like? 

What is Five Nights at Freddy’s?

Also known in its short-form as FNaF, the Five Nights at Freddy’s world is based on an indie horror video game franchise that was created by Scott Cawthon. With a 2014 debut, it has quickly gained widespread acclaim and popularity worldwide due to its unique gameplay mechanics, eerie animatronic characters, and engaging storyline. 

The premise of the game is centered around the player taking on the role of a night security guard at Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza, a fictional family entertainment center similar to the popular Chuck E. Cheese’s. The player must survive five nights at the pizza place while dealing with malfunctioning animatronic characters that become threatening at night.

The gameplay is primarily focused on managing surveillance cameras to monitor the movements and activities of the animatronics, which include Freddy Fazbear, Bonnie the Bunny, Chica the Chicken, and Foxy the Pirate Fox. The goal is to survive until the end of each night by conserving power and strategically using the security measures to fend off the animatronic characters with light and by closing the doors to the security room. 

So, does it qualify as a cult?

While the Five Nights at Freddy’s world is intense, consisting of fan art, fan fiction, fan theories, and many communities where the game’s intricacies are discussed, it’s the level of enthusiasm and dedication towards the horror game that’s the real kicker. That said, it’s important to understand the difference between passionate fandom and a cult. Since fans of FNaF are not engaging in harmful or dangerous practices, nor are they blindly following a charismatic leader, the enthusiasm is not that of the foundation of a cult. 

We can say that the franchise is a cultural phenomenon

The success of the Five Nights at Freddy’s world has led to the creation of several sequels, spin-offs, novels, merchandise, and the highly anticipated movie adaption set to air October 27, 2023. With such an intricate storyline involving elements of mystery and a deeper lore for the players with the dedication to uncover it all, this modern horror game has a lasting impact on the entire genre. 

Are you excited for the new movie? Will you be seeing it in theaters or waiting to watch it from the convenience of your couch? Drop a comment below.

October 06, 2023 — Alex Wilks