Synopsis: Three friends stumble upon the horrific origins of the Bye Bye Man, a mysterious figure they discover is the root cause of the evil behind man’s most unspeakable acts.
Release Date: January 13, 2017 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Genre(s): Horror, Thriller
January is typically a dumping point for movies, particularly for the horror genre. This year’s big dump is The Bye Bye Man.
The Bye Bye Man is about a college student named Elliot (Ouija‘s Douglas Smith) who moves into a huge spooky house with his girlfriend, Sasha (Cressida Bonas from “Doctor Thorne”), and his best friend, John (Lucien Laviscount from “Scream Queens”). Elliot and John love the place, but Sasha is creeped out by it, so at their housewarming party, she asks her friend, a psychic named Kim (Terrifier‘s Jenna Kanell), to cleanse the house. The four hold a séance, and in doing so, they summon an evil being called The Bye Bye Man, who turns everyone who hears his name into a homicidal maniac. Elliot and his friends have to find a way to rid themselves of the villain before they kill each other…and themselves.
Adapted from the Robert Damon Schneck book The Bridge to Body Island, the screenplay for The Bye Bye Man was written by Jonathan Penner (Let the Devil Wear Black). Penner’s knowledge of the horror genre is apparent (he actually wrote a book called Horror Cinema), because there seems to be a little of every other fright flick imaginable in The Bye Bye Man. There are hints of everything from Candyman and Witchboard to Sinister and It Follows in there. Unfortunately, the movie just seems like a series of potentially iconic horror moments with very little story to tie them together. For its part, the direction of Stacy Title (Hood of Horror) is solid enough to make those little moments pop, but the logical inconsistencies, unanswered questions, and massive plot holes give the impression that the script itself was just an afterthought to all of the creative set pieces. And as cool as the snippets of showing off are, they aren’t cool enough to save the movie.
The setup to The Bye Bye Man is actually very creepy, and under different circumstances, the titular villain (played by Pan’s Labyrinth‘s Doug Jones) could have become one of the genre’s modern boogeymen. Alas, the weak plot, the brainless dialogue, and the flat performances from the three leads all contribute to the film’s undoing. The audience kind of feels sorry for the big-name support cast, a group that includes Faye Dunaway (Chinatown), Carrie-Anne Moss (The Matrix), and Leigh Whannell (Insidious, Saw), for having to slum it in such a hopeless movie. It’s one for the vets to leave off of the resume.
So, it would appear that January continues to be the dumping zone for horror movies. But, in The Bye Bye Man‘s case, it’s justified. Actually, it probably should have been dumped farther to a straight-to-video release. It’s only two weeks in, and The Bye Bye Man is already a strong contender for worst movie of the year. Don’t think it, don’t say it…don’t see it.
Although it tries really hard, The Bye Bye Man is not at all scary. It’s full of ineffective jump scares and gimmicky atmospheric tension with very little of a sense of dread. Even the limited sightings of the Bye Bye Man himself lose their freaky luster after a while. Some of the ideas are frightening, such as the concept of not knowing who you can trust and wondering if your best friend has been turned against you after hearing the Bye Bye Man’s name, but all of this has been done before, and done better, and scarier, than it is handled in The Bye Bye Man. There are few – if any – actual scares in the movie.
Cast and Crew
- Director(s): Stacy Title
- Producer(s): Simon HorsmanTrevor MacyJeffrey Soros
- Screenwriter(s): Jonathan Penner
- Story: Robert Damon Schneck
- Cast: Douglas Smith (Elliot)Lucien Laviscount (John)Cressida Bonas (Sasha) Jenna Kanell (Kim)Michael Trucco (Virgil)Erica Tremblay (Alice)Marisa Echeverria (Trina)Cleo King (Mrs. Watson)Faye Dunaway (Widow Redmon)Leigh Whannell (Larry Redmon)Carrie-Anne Moss (Detective Shaw)Doug Jones (The Bye Bye Man)
- Editor(s): Ken Blackwell
- Cinematographer: James Kniest
- Production Designer(s):
- Costume Designer: Leah Butler
- Casting Director(s): Anne McCarthyLillian PylesKellie Roy
- Music Score: The Newton Brothers
- Music Performed By:
- Country Of Origin: USA