Might sound crazy but it ain't no lie
The Bye Bye Man is directed by Stacy Title and is based on "The Bridge to Body Island" chapter in the book The President's Vampire by Robert Damon Schneck.
If you were deterred from seeing The Bye Bye Man in theaters simply because of how laughably bad of a title that it has, then by no means should anyone wish any ill will upon you. The Bye Bye Man is a movie that perfectly represents the worst of the worst when it comes to bad horror. For starters, it holds the dubious distinction of being January horror, the worst time of release - movie genre combination that I can probably think of. And then if you can somehow leap that hurdle, you will then come to see that it's yet another horror movie that involves some sort of monster-ghoul-spirit thing that comes to torment a cast of who-the-hell-are-these-people characters, all of which amounts to something you'd only expect to see around 3 AM on a Thursday on the Syfy channel. But I would think even the Syfy channel executives would have a hard time suppressing a laugh at hearing something like The Bye Bye Man, because that name makes even Sharknado sound like the coolest name ever. It does my heart a little good knowing the fact that some of the unforgiving folks on the internet went to town with the poster and the name. Here are some that people came up with:
So, yes, The Bye Bye Man is the actual name of the the supernatural entity that is supposed to cause havoc throughout the film, torturing a group of college kids who move in to an off-campus house. There's Elliot (Douglas Smith), John (Lucien Laviscount), and Elliot's girlfriend, Sasha (Cressida Bonas). Elliot finds some coins in a nightstand in the house, as well as writing that says "don't think it, don't say it" over and over again. The writing also contains the name, The Bye Bye Man. From there, The Bye Bye Man begins to get into Elliot, John, and Sasha's minds, causing them to experience hallucinations and act strangely.
That's all we really get in terms of story, so you would be expecting almost nothing but a 90 minute barrage of cheap jump scares. If that was the case, the movie could just be dismissed as disposable horror trash, but, honestly, that's not what happens here. Pretty much nothing happens for the first half hour, and even when all of the hallucinations and killings are going on, it still isn't even the least bit interesting.
- There is nothing good that I can say about The Bye Bye Man, except that it goes for an idea that has potential. The Bye Bye Man is described as being like a curse, for if more people know his name and think about him, then the more powerful and destructive he'll become. One character relates The Bye Bye Man to cancer. An idea related to something like a destructive disease is absolutely a starting point for a solid horror film. Do you know how much better The Bye Bye Man would have been if it had instead served as a powerful metaphor about the dangers of cancer or disease in general?
- The main reason that The Bye Bye Man fails is in its top low point: the characters. Something happened down the road for horror directors to begin deciding, "We will surely make big money if we have our movies center on scaring and killing stupid, young people." I want to think that horror movies wanting to have young main characters is secretly a means of punishment for college students, young adults, etc. for consistently making stupid decisions and pissing off the older folks. But that's not it at all. It's just lazy, careless writing. There is no way that a movie with a title like The Bye Bye Man would bother to spend even one second of its usually 90 minute run time on making an effort towards wanting to make us give a damn for any of its characters. Since we don't care for its characters, any and all scares are slit at the throat. There's barely a thing to say about Elliot, John, or Sasha. They just happen to move in to the wrong place at the wrong time and become the unfortunate victims of The Bye Bye Man. And, duh, the characters are generally stupid. What else needs to be said when you've got your main character walk into a dark basement and shout out, "Hello?"
- We not only have bad characters, but also bad acting! Douglas Smith tries oh so hard to look scared, but the best he can do in that department is display some rather hilarious squinty-eyed faces. He runs and shouts a lot as well. It's too bad that none of it is convincing. Lucien Laviscount looks as if he has no clue what he is doing, as if he is making stuff up on the spot because director Stacy Title forgot about him in between scenes. And then there's Cressida Bonas, who speaks her lines in the way a college theater major would be practicing lines during a dull 8 AM chemistry class, not making any clear attempt at being the least bit nervous. Let me not forget mentioning appearances by Carrie-Anne Moss and the long-time Faye Dunaway. Both have rather brief appearances, so there's really not much to say there.
- My last low point is one that kind of stunned me. The jump scares. Wow. I cannot believe a lowbrow horror film like this one can't even gets its most basic (and only) scare tactic right. Any and all jump scare moments (there are very few of them, actually) are constructed with total incompetence with awful setup, bad lighting, and a weak delivery. They don't even trigger the smallest static bolt of shock in you.
And the last thing that I feel I should mention is The Bye Bye Man himself. Let's just say that he looks like his design was put together by a freshmen engineering student who signed up to take one of those theater makeup classes, and the design was his assignment on the first day of class. The Bye Bye Man also awkwardly points his index finger in sort of an E.T. fashion during his brief appearances. He also has a dog, and the dog looks like an ugly CGI blood turd. Do we find out where The Bye Bye Man came from and how he came into existence? Nope, because that would require explanation and some logic, which is simply too much for this film's execution capabilities.
One thing we can all agree on: January horror is bad. But somehow, someway, The Bye Bye Man finds a way to be below some of January's worst. The word that came back to me over and over while watching the movie was stupid. Its name is stupid. Its characters are stupid. Its attempts at being scary are stupid. The entire thing is a master exercise in stupidity. It is an empty shell that offers absolutely nothing original or interesting. I don't hesitate to call it one of the worst horror films I have ever seen. And considering the piles of horror trash that come out on a yearly basis, that's saying a lot.
Recommend? No. Don't think it. Don't say it. Don't ever watch it.
Here you'll find my reviews on just about any film you may have seen. I try to avoid major spoilers as much as possible. I structure my reviews in the following way: