The Bye Bye Man
Starring Douglas Smith, Lucien Laviscount, Cressida Bonas, Carrie-Anne Moss, Faye Dunaway
It’s January, which means dumping ground time for genre specific movies. Most audiences are more interested in catching up on awards films getting their wide release, but for those uninterested in prestige, there is this. The Bye Bye Man is the first (or second if you count Underworld) eye rolling, horror catastrophe of the new year. Director Stacy Title has made horror films before (not that anyone saw them) but this is her first major theatrical release. The Bye Bye Man is a compilation of clichés and antidotes from every other cheap modern horror release. Besides the cameos near the end from forgotten Matrix star Moss and icon Dunaway, Douglas Smith (Miss Sloane, The Gift) is the most recognizable face.
Three naïve college students in Madison, WI have landed a roomy old house so they can get off campus and have more freedom. Elliot (Smith) is very mature for his age, losing his parents at a young age. His girlfriend Sasha (Bonas) and childhood friend John (Laviscount) also join him in this house with dark history. It starts with attic doors opening, then scribbles on an old nightstand, part of the fully furnished package deal. Elliot first reads the words “Don’t think it. Don’t say it”, scratched into the night stand drawer, then, underneath he sees the words “Bye Bye Man” which sets off a curse that goes back to the 1960’s. All three friends begin to have disturbing visions and a fear that someone is coming to get them.
A compilation of clichés and antidotes from every other cheap modern horror release.
The film’s prologue gets off on a rocky start with some really terrible acting that’s as distracting as it is laughable. We are also introduced to the films intention to shy away from violent imagery. Apparently in 1969, a shotgun to the gut doesn’t cause blood, despite blowing a hole through a door which smokes for an entire scene. When we get to present day, newcomer Cressida Bonas bridges the cringe worthy acting from the past to the present. It’s hard to decide what’s worse, the script by Survivor cast member Jonathan Penner (apparently, anyone is qualified to write horror movie scripts these days), or the collection of bad performances. “You don’t have to look for him. He’s found us,” one character says, failing to conjure up anything but laughter from the audience.
It’s another horror movie about a creepy house, another scary movie where curses and haunts frighten young people towards murderous behavior. It’s also another in the genre that hopes to become a franchise, that in a few years, everyone will regret. It’s too bad that characters in horror movies have never seen “horror movies” (except for Scream, not that it helped them very much), because they always make the same mistakes. The Bye Bye Man wants to be a terrifying tale but never gets the violence right, detours the suspense with jump sounds and stereotypes. As if couldn’t get worse, the real moment you want to throw your popcorn in the floor and walk out, is the cheap CGI rendering of the villain’s hound. This horror movie has nothing to offer in the way of originality or suspense, and just barely enough to keep you awake.
A lazy, poorly, constructed horror film with bad acting that borrows instead of creating original content.