The Bye Bye Man is a 2017 horror film about a group of college students who uncover the truth about what might be causing a violent run of brutal killings, only to face the demon himself.
Horror films have a long and seemingly proud tradition of being shlocky, with many fans far more content to put up with absurd storylines in favor of some quality scares. A whole sub-genre of B-grade films have become a go-to source for cheap gory thrills and predictable but frightening good times. Naturally, a few rise to become influential landmarks, but the vast majority are forgettable fare made with a singular intent. With The Bye Bye Man, it is the latter, and even then, it sinks below expectations as a bland, confusing film that has few scares and fewer reasons to exist.
When three university students, including Elliot (Douglas Smith), his girl Sasha (Cressida Bonas), and their best friend John (Lucien Laviscount) move into a low-rent, multi-story apartment house, they think they’ve taken the first steps into independence and adulthood. They soon discover furniture in the basement, including a nightstand they ends up with Elliot and Sasha. On the inside of the drawer are the words, ‘don’t say it, don’t think it’ over and over, which naturally means that is exactly what they do, but things really kick up when the three hold a seance and mention the name on the underside of the drawer: Bye Bye Man.
That’s when things get bad, as the students unleash the titular demon and his hellbeast dog that cause the trio to suffer terrifying hallucinations and exceedingly violent behavior. They turn to psychic Kim (Jenna Kanell) for help while Elliot does his own digging, uncovering a 50-year-old murder that seems to offer clues to what and how the The Bye Bye Man (Doug Jones) is, and worse, what it might mean for his only way to be free of him.
Directed by Stacy Title, The Bye Bye Man is a curious mess, a film that in a way recalls the far superior Candyman (1992) in how the demon is summoned though that’s where it ends. The Bye Bye Man himself is not much of a monster per se, arriving when called and filling his victims heads with bad dreams, supposedly their worst nightmares, of which for Elliot seem mostly to be of Sasha fooling around with John. Title, and screenwriter Jonathan Penner, are more interested in style over substance, draping their demon in all the usual flare and a few confounding bits as well. He wears a hoodie and a black trench coat because of course he does, but why does he have a bulbous (poorly animated CGI) dog? And why do coins spill upon the floor whenever he’s around? There are no answers to these and other questions of course, as the movie hopes the look of the bad guy will be more compelling than the reason for him.
And so I come to the acting, which in this kind of film shouldn’t have the highest of expectations, but there are some performances here that simply don’t work, and honestly, are very poor. Smith is the most noteworthy in this case, his mannerisms and over-action unsettlingly out of place, though like the others, is saddled with an inept script that lumbers from one scene to the next with a laborious pace. It hardly makes sense to have Elliot believe every single vision The Bye Bye Man implants in his head when in fact Elliot knows this is what The Bye Bye Man does (let alone the notion that the manner in which one is to be rid of him from your mind is to write the aforementioned tagline over and over, which by definition would mean the opposite of that). But he’s only one of many infuriatingly inept characters, from a cop (Carrie-Anne Moss) who seems to be unaware what her job is to a sad cameo by none other than Faye Dunaway, her character the widow of a man who fell victim to the problematic baddie years before.
The Bye Bye Man is a painful miscalculation, a poorly-directed and acted film that jumbles the potential for scares and crumbles under the weight of its mishandled premise. At times seeming as if it might even fall into parody of itself, the movie utterly wastes every chance it has in both horror and black comedy. Don’t say it, don’t think it, and don’t see it.
The Bye Bye Man (2017) Review
Movie description: The Bye-Bye Man is a 2017 horror film about a group of college students who uncover the truth about whta might be causing a violent run of brutal killings. The Bye-Bye Man is a 2017 horror film about a group of college students who uncover the truth about whta might be causing a violent run of brutal killings.
Director(s): Stacy Title
Actor(s): Douglas Smith, Lucien Laviscount, Cressida Bonas
- Our Score