While every year sees a lot of horror films released, one of the most hyped so far has to be The Bye Bye Man. After a rather exhausting trailer run and social media campaign, there was a lot to live up too, especially since it was clear that director Stacy Title was drawing from a wealth of other horror films. Yet, The Bye Bye Man not only fails to live up to the other modern day horror movies it imitates, but gives us a first-hand look as to what those ideas would manifest into when poorly structured, written, and acted.
The base idea of the story is that three friends move into a large off-campus house that’s on sale in the hopes of turning it into a rather large social space. Eventually, our lead Elliot (Douglas Smith) discovers some hidden writing on a shelf that says The Bye Bye Man which acts like a trigger to summon the unknown entity after him. After a failed seance by their friend Kim (Jenna Kanell), Elliot blurts out the word like an idiot and ends up infecting Kim, his girlfriend Sasha (Cressida Bonas) and his best friend John (Lucian Laviscount).
What follows is an exceptionally predictable series of events where they attempt to dismantle the truth about this monster all while trying to not kill or give into the macabre visions provided by The Bye Bye Man. The biggest problem with this film is that it thinks way too small with its concept and doesn’t spend time exploring or deepening our understanding of this entity. Sure, there’s a brief flashback to an event in the 1960s but there always feels like Title wanted to dive more into his effects.Yet, the movie always centers around our four defacto heroes who cannot hold the weight of this story at all.
The idea of a supernatural being spreading like a virus could have been a genuinely interesting concept. Given how highly connected we are as a society, there would have been tons of room for commenting on how we choose to socialize and the idea of something going viral on the internet. However, the general story is relegated to a few characters and ends up being a less clever or interesting version of The Babadook fused with some of the ideas from Sinister.
See, one of the most effective techniques when having a physical entity be your antagonist is to only give brief flashes and ideas of what they look like. The Bye Bye Man goes the other direction and not only showcases this, what turns out to be a pale bald man, in full light multiple times. His silhouette could have been used to great effectiveness, yet when the film decides to spotlight him again and again this only diminishes his scare factor. It also doesn’t help that his pet hellhound looks absolutely atrocious and feels completely out of place with the rest of the movie.
However, most of this could have been rectified if the acting and general story offered some sense of substance. Sadly, none of the main characters are really interesting and are barely explored outside of general ideas with the exception of Elliot. There is an interesting idea based around Elliot’s jealousy taking over him, but Douglas Smith does a terrible job convey any sense of torment. Most of his big revelations end up with him babbling like a fool until he someone gains some dumb insight that he fails to share with the audience.
The rest of the characters offer little to the story itself, as both Sasha and John lack any real development or insight for us to care about. I’d talk about Kim but apparently the movie forgot about her because she literally vanishes for a fairly lengthy portion of the movie. Other characters introduced are just there for the sake of exposition and are incredibly forgettable regardless of how hard The Bye Bye Man tries to shock us or make us gasp at their respective fates.
Yet, one of the largest issues is that The Bye Bye Man just isn’t scary in any capacity and checks off literally every cliche in the horror book. There’s an idea played with that he makes you see things that aren’t there, but it just comes off as if the director saw Oculus and decided to steal that concept. His powers range from looming at a distance to looming up close, along with creating loud sudden noises and appearing out of nowhere. If you haven’t guessed by now 100% of the movies “terrifying” scenes are just lame jump scares that are predictable and ineffective.
It doesn’t help the cinematography pretty much tells you this is going to happen as it will constantly frame a dark coat hanging in the back as if to always remind you that “somewhere in the movie he will be this person.” It’s lazy and lacks any sense of creativity or imagination, which results in a stagnant, often laughable moment that has no tension behind it. This is horror 101 and if you have ever watched more than one scary film then you will see 90% of these coming.
The Bye Bye Man is not just a bad movie, but one that insults the intelligence of its audience with cheap scares and dull characters. This is a movie that borrows concepts from great horror films but doesn’t deliver or innovate in any way. If it wasn’t for the genuinely base original idea this would be a movie that should be avoided at all costs. In fact, viewers should take this movie’s advice and don’t say it or don’t think as maybe we can just pretend it didn’t happen.
[irp posts=”7515″ name=”All Upcoming Horror Movies of 2017 & Beyond”]