- on Friday, 13 January 2017 08:52
- by Loron Hays
The Bye Bye Man is a new horror film with a new monster that you will want to applaud more than you actually do. Maybe it’s because of that stupid title. More than likely, though, is the fact that the film is oh so very familiar and a bit too technically challenged for its own good.
I have a sneaking suspicion that the auteurs of the film wanted this one to be something completely different than the usual January claptrap horror offering. Unfortunately, the finished product is more of the same as the studio – maybe in desperation – has whittled down what should have been a hard R offering into a PG-13 romp of young adult paranoia. Thankfully, Faye Dunaway and Carrie-Anne Moss show up in time for salvation from Old Hollywood, but it's not enough to make this one worthwhile.
Richly underdeveloped (even the titular character gets left in the cold), the film saves its best bits for its shocking opening and its final moments – when the hooded coin-clinking boogeyman, effectively portrayed by Doug Jones, finally gets to shine a bit – and makes a mess of everything in between, including hidden fears about friends sleeping with other people’s girlfriends and on an on. This is, after all, a film where mirages become reality and even the quietest of thoughts can (and will) kill you.
Opening with a scene of mass-murder in which a bespectacled office nerd starts blasting civilians away while muttering something incomprehensible, The Bye Bye Man is, thankfully, honest about its creep factor as it dials down some of the jump scares and amps up the atmosphere with lots of crooked shadows. Unfortunately, the inane acting is about as hollow and as gutted as the haunted house this group of college students rents. The bloodless kills, though? Inexcusable.
Directed by Stacy Title and adapted by husband Jonathan Penner from a short story by Robert Damon Schneck, The Bye Bye Man is what happens when three students in Wisconsin - Elliot (Douglas Smith), his girlfriend Sasha (Cressida Bonas) and Drake-looking best friend John (Lucien Laviscount) – move from the dorms to a remote location and are warned, by eerily scrawled messages into the furniture, to not think or say the name of The Bye Bye Man. They are all too soon fractured by a series of unfortunate events that even the best minds aren't equipped to deal with.
Well, we already know what they are going to do because, obviously, it is a horror film and smart people are bound to become so incredibly stupid when the tension gets even the tiniest bit amplified. Weird energies are picked up thanks to their psychic friend, a séance is conducted, and – ta-da – the titular boogeyman begins to terrorize with his hallucinatory visions. And once inside your head, he takes full control and unspeakable acts of violence are usually committed.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see where the horror in The Bye Bye Man is headed. Even in its most effective moments, we are reminded of its limitations. The youth at the center of the (barely) feature film kill any amount of good feeling they could have earned with some pretty poor performances. Plus, with no answers to the mounting questions you are sure to have about the train-travelling boogeyman, much of the The Bye Bye Man becomes one long exercise in total frustration. Who? What? Why? Give us something, damn it!
See this one solely for the phantom menace at its center. The Bye Bye Man is better read than said. So, the next time you want to take a knife to someone – or even think about doing harm to another living person – just know that The Bye Bye Man has paid you a visit…
…or was he there all along?
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for terror, horror violence, bloody images, sexual content, thematic elements, partial nudity, some language and teen drinking.
Runtime: 96 mins
Director: Stacy Title
Writer: Jonathan Penner
Cast: Douglas Smith, Lucien Laviscount, Cressida Bonas
Tagline: The evil behind the most unspeakable acts has a name.
Memorable Movie Quote: "If you say his name, or even tink it, he will come for you."
Theatrical Distributor: STX Entertainment
Official Site: http://stxmovies.com/thebyebyeman/
Release Date: January 13, 2017
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date: No details available.
Synopsis: When three college students move into an old house off campus, they unwittingly unleash a supernatural entity known as The Bye Bye Man, who comes to prey upon them once they discover his name. The friends must try to save each other, all the while keeping The Bye Bye Man's existence a secret to save others from the same deadly fate..
No details available.