How Donnie Darko inspired Five Nights at Freddy’s

Chris Tilly
The big bunny in Donnie Darko.

Five Nights at Freddy’s director Emma Tammi explains how Donnie Darko and Casino influenced her video game adaptation.

Five Nights at Freddy’s concerns automated animals coming to life and trying to kill humans in an abandoned theme restaurant called Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza.

The movie is adapted from a 2014 horror survival game of the same name, which has little to do with end-of-the-world drama Donnie Darko aside from the fact that the 2001 film features a giant rabbit.

But in a new interview, director Emma Tammi reveals how Richard Kelly’s movie inspired her work on FNaF. As well as an unexpected Martin Scorsese flick.

How Donnie Darko inspired Five Nights at Freddy’s

When asked what films had an influence on Five Nights at Freddy’s, Emma Tammi told Forbes: “One that [star] Josh [Hutcherson] referenced when I first spoke with him, which was so on point, was Donnie Darko. He was referencing that in terms of his performance, but that is such a fun, unique tone and one of the reasons why it felt important to pull a lot of different references from different types of movies and filmmakers.”

Donnie Darko stars Jake Gyllenhaal as a troubled teen who receives messages from a man in a rabbit suit concerning the end of the world. While well-reviewed at the time, it wasn’t a commercial hit but has built a loyal following of fans over the last 22 years.

Tammi then made the even more surprising Scorsese reference, explaining “When it came to camera movement, I was hugely inspired by shots from Scorsese’s Casino, among other things that you wouldn’t necessarily think are an exact comp for Freddy’s. I think that created a unique and dynamic blend for what was this specific, quirky story and world.”

Casino is a violent biopic that stars Robert De Niro Sam ‘Ace’ Rothstein and revolves around his efforts to build a gambling empire in Las Vegas.

Five Nights at Freddy’s is in UK cinemas now, while the movie hits Peacock and US theaters this Friday, October 27, 2023. For more on the film, check out the below articles: