Fazbear Frights: Bunny Call

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for earlier instalments in the series. You can read my reviews of these novels by clicking the links below:

Into the Pit | Fetch | 1:35AM | Step Closer

Fazbear Frights: Bunny Call was written by Scott Cawthon, Elley Cooper and Andrea Waggener and first published in 2020. It is a collection of three short stories, all set within the vague canon of the Five Nights at Freddy’s video game series. Although most of the stories do stand alone, it does follow on from the previous collections in this series – Into to Pit (2020), Fetch (2020), 1:35AM (2020) and Step Closer (2020).

In Bunny Call, Bob loves his family but is starting to the resent them. His wife is eager for them all to do everything as a family, while Bob just wants to go fishing on his own. On a family camping trip, Bob gets a chance to have his revenge in the form of an early morning wake-up call from “Ralpho” – a person in a rabbit costume. Bob soon gets cold feet and tries to cancel the bunny call but Ralpho does not seem to get the message. Can Bob protect his family from the psychotic rabbit?

In In the Flesh, Matt is proud to be working on ‘Springtrap’s Revenge’ – the latest instalment of the popular Five Nights at Freddy’s game series. Unfortunately, things are not going well. The release date is looming and early reviews are not impressed by Springtrap’s lack of AI. Matt goes to great lengths to try and improve on this, but is only met with further problems as Springtrap seemingly vanishes from the game altogether. Shortly after, Matt starts to get sick. Is it just stress or is something far more sinister at work?

In The Man in Room 1280, Arthur is called to administer the last rites to a burn victim at Heracles Hospital, but isn’t prepared for what he finds. The man is grotesquely disfigured by his injuries and yet impossibly clings to life. Even his nurses believe that he evil, connecting his states to sightings of a ghost around the hospital. Somehow, Arthur manages to communicate with the man who expresses a desire to visit a Fazbear Entertainment Distribution Centre. Naturally, the priest is determined to fulfil his dying wish, but why does the man have such an odd request?

In case you haven’t read my earlier reviews, let’s start by once again talking about the history of this series. Five Nights at Freddy’s was a horror game that was originally released on Windows, Android and iOS in 2014. In the game, you play as a night watchman who works at a Chuck E Cheese style pizzeria. Your job is to survive for five nights, using dwindling power supplies to control lights and security doors. If you fail, you meet a very messy end at the hands of one of the restaurant’s four animatronic mascots – Freddy Fazbear, Bonnie the Rabbit, Chica the Chicken or Foxy the Pirate Fox.

The game was a huge success with horror fans as it is genuinely intense and contains some great jump scares. Following the first game, the series spawned several sequels and spin-off games which introduced a lot of additional horrifying robotic foes. It remains very popular to this day and its extended universe has been expanded through a trilogy of young adult novels (see the links at the bottom of this review) and this new series of short stories.

As with the earlier instalments of this series, I think it’s probably important to note that these short stories are really aimed at fans of the games. While they are designed to be read on their own, they certainly hold greater appeal to readers who are familiar with the robots and very vague mythos that Five Nights at Freddy’s fans love to debate.

While Bunny Call does contain some of the most memorable instalments so far, I did still feel that this collection was a bit of a mixed bag on the whole. The three stories showcased this time were only loosely connected to the Five Nights at Freddy’s games. While In The Flesh did make direct reference to the franchise in a surprisingly meta way, the other two stories are a lot more vague, containing no familiar animatronics or trips to the restaurants.

Anyhow, let’s take a brief look at each story in turn.

Despite being the title story, Bunny Call was by far the weakest of the three. It focused on a father in the midst of a mid-life crisis as he plans a mean prank on his kids, only to come face to face with a malicious entity (who is possibly just a maniac in a bunny costume) when he tries to backpedal on this. While incredibly slow-burning to begin with, the tension in Bunny Call finally ramps up over its final 20 pages as Bob is forced to defend his sleeping family from “Ralpho” – yet another Five Nights at Freddy’s rabbit.

While the need to defend a room from a robot until 6AM was a cute call-back to the video game, unfortunately Bunny Call never really succeeded in being scary. The first two-thirds of the story were a little dull, following Bob as he suffers a whole day of bonding with his family at the camp. By the time that Ralpho finally appeared, I was starting to get a little bored.

Bob was also one of the most annoying characters that we have seen in this series to date. Although his family seem to be fairly decent – well-behaved boys, a cute daughter, a caring wife – Bob does nothing but complain. While this instalment was the kindest and least grisly of the three contained in this volume, it only served to make less of an impression on me. While Bob does learn a lesson, it’s not an especially memorable one.

The award of the weirdest story – possibly of the whole series to date – certainly goes to In The Flesh. Thematically, this one reminded me the most of Room For One More from the 1:35AM collection. The story focuses on a video game programmer who is seemingly the only person tasked with urgently creating a game centred around Springtrap – the grubby yellow rabbit who first appeared in Five Nights at Freddy’s 3. You know, because major video game developers tend to just put one guy in charge of this sort of thing.

While I wouldn’t necessarily call it a good story, the tale quickly evolves into a fast-paced body horror story that certainly left a lasting impression on me, though I’m not going to spoil its wholly unpleasant twist for you here. Unlike Bunny Call, this one is incredibly memorable and, of all the stories, it really did keep me reading. While it is likely to haunt me for a long time, it did embody a lot of what I expect from a Five Nights at Freddy’s game. Nastiness and sudden scares.

The protagonist this time around was Matt. While I was irritated by Bob, Matt was easily the most detestable character that this series has presented so far. Matt is a vile human being – the story that is quick to objectify women and believes that he is God’s gift to the world. The scene in which he tries to steal his best friend’s girlfriend during a double-date neatly shows how he truly deserves everything coming to him. His just deserts are fitting and deeply satisfying.

The strongest story of this collection was the final instalment – The Man in Room 1280. Of all the tales so far, this is one that felt the least like a Five Nights at Freddy’s story but it was incredibly well done. The focus of this short was on a priest who was determined to fulfil the final request of a man who, by all accounts, should not have still been alive.

Although a fairly long story, this one easily kept my attention throughout with its eerie atmosphere. While the connection to the series isn’t really obvious until the very end, the subplot concerning a group of nurses attempting to euthanise the title character was enthralling and really kept me turning the pages. My only real problem was how much was left unexplained. We don’t find out who the man is or his connection to the infamous pizzeria. Perhaps this will be explored in a future volume.

The characters in The Man in Room 1280 were actually very well-rounded and I certainly came to feel for Arthur and Mia as the story progressed. While I’m not sure how the murder nurses had managed to keep their jobs for so long (can nurses just decided that a patient is evil?), they helped to make the story suitably unsettling and the final few pages reveal that they may not have been too far from the mark.

As with all previous volumes, the final few pages tell of the continuing investigation into the ‘Stitchwraith’. It certainly feels as though this little story is starting to come together, as it’s more obvious than ever how Detective Larson and Jake’s stories connect, as well to how this tale ties into some of the short stories that came before. I’m now pretty curious to find out where this one is heading and look forward to seeing how it will develop in the next instalment.

Anyhow, I think at about covers everything. Although these short stories are still hit and miss, I did really enjoy The Man in Room 1280 and would certainly recommend it. While I still think that this is really a series that will only be enjoyed by the fans, if you enjoy horror stories and are looking for something a little different, you might also get a kick out of it.

Fazbear Frights: Bunny Call can be purchased as a Paperback, eBook and Audio Book from Amazon.co.uk

Scott Cawthon and Kira Breed-Wrisley also previously released a trilogy of young adult novels that are loosely based on the Five Nights at Freddy’s games.

If you would like to find out more, check out the links below:

The Silver Eyes | The Twisted Ones | The Fourth Closet

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