Ahh, January and February… what is with your fetish for bad movies? Ugh, okay, I’ll probably do a long-ass rant about this movie in the actual review, but can I just say that the name itself for this monster-ghost person is absolutely ridiculous. I mean, without looking at the poster, what would you think “The Bye Bye Man” was about? Well, who really says “bye bye” but little kids and baby-talking adults? So I’m thinking this is some superhero that Nick Jr. came up with. But nope! It’s a PG-13 horror film. Of course it is.
From the get-go, I had my problems. Aside from the fact that it’s a horror movie in January, and its obnoxious title, it’s another one of those movies where names are bad. Hell, not even relegated to a horror trope, if you think about it. Candyman, Freddy Kreuger in FREDDY VS. JASON (2003), Beetlejuice, Voldemort, movies seriously need to stop this. It’s getting a little grating. But ASIDE from all that, I’m calling it out. The name you can’t think or say, they’re going to constantly think and say it for thin reasons to no reasons. It’s going to have a lot of failed jump-scares, nonsensical crap, and a whole lot of inconsistencies.
Let’s take a look at the cast. Starring in this obvious stinker is Douglas Smith, known for MISS SLOANE (2016), OUIJA (2014), and PERCY JACKSON AND THE SEA OF MONSTERS (2013). I… have little to say about him. He’s no household name, seems like a fine enough actor though. He must be if he’s getting steady work every year. So… moving on. There’s actually a few folks in here, but I think I’ll mention the big surprises that I am positive were blackmailed into this. Carrie-Anne Moss (FRANKENSTEIN , The Matrix trilogy, and TV show JESSICA JONES), Faye Dunaway (CHINATOWN , NETWORK , and BONNIE AND CLYDE ), Doug Jones (OUIJA: ORIGIN OF EVIL , the Hellboy movies, and PAN’S LABYRINTH ), and Michael Trucco (HUSH , and TV shows CASTLE and BATTLESTAR GALACTICA). What the hell did the makers of this movie bribe you talented bastards into this? You are all amazingly talented! Why are you in this schlock?!
Now for the crew. Directing is Stacy Title, known for HOOD OF HORROR (2006), LET THE DEVIL WEAR BLACK (1999), and THE LAST SUPPER (1995). So… apparently she’s known for directing bad horror films. Fantastic. Writing the screenplay is Jonathan Penner (Really? PEN-ner? Cute.), known for writing LET THE DEVIL WEAR BLACK, as well as the TV movie THE LONE RANGER (2003). Great, so an inexperienced writer, as well as having written not great ones either. Seriously, it looks like his Lone Ranger movie was worse than the Johnny Depp one! Composing the music is the Newton Brothers, known for OUIJA: ORIGIN OF EVIL, HUSH, and OCULUS (2013). Okay, so if nothing else, we should have a decent score to go with this. Not that I ever comment on scores, no matter how much of a fan I am of the composer. Finally, the cinematographer is James Kniest, known for WITHIN (2016), HUSH, and ANNABELLE (2014). Boy, a lot of veterans from HUSH. I should probably make time to see it.
So yeah, I’m not looking forward to this. It may not be hard for me to jump from cheap jump scares, but jump scares don’t mean good movies. Whatever, it fills up my day and I could use some time to kill.
This is my honest opinion of THE BYE BYE MAN.
Elliot (Douglas Smith) and his long-time best friend John (Lucien Laviscount) just leased a house. The plan, live together with his girlfriend Sasha (Cressida Bonas) and survive college. This proves difficult when Elliot comes across some ominous writing in a nightstand that refers to something called The Bye Bye Man. After a seance is performed by Kim (Jenna Kanell), a friend of Sasha’s, who is psychic, starts to sense the presence of the Man and Elliot utters the name out loud. Soon, they all start to see things that aren’t there. These things drive them to insanity and even violence as Elliot tries to figure out how to resist the Bye Bye Man.
And absolutely no surprise here, folks. This is a bad movie. To give you a taste of the thrill ride I’m about to describe, the first red flag I encountered was that I was the only one in the cinema, so I was able to take notes on my phone the entire time. Let’s get started.
Not that I’m much of a writer in horror or anything, but if I had a lesson “101” for wannabe horror writers out there, don’t start your story off with a bright and colorful 1960’s backdrop. Also, when your first insane victim is an unassuming middle-aged man wearing glasses and a sweater vest, don’t expect anyone in the audience to take any frame seriously when he’s carrying a shotgun because I was laughing my ass off the whole time. Not even five minutes in and I’m thinking this is supposed to be a comedy. Not a good sign.
Remorsefully, this is probably the best part of the entire movie. Why do I say that? Because the rest of the film is nonsensical, clichéd, and boring.
Who are our protagonists? Generic good-looking teens with no personality. If you’ve seen a horror movie, you’ve seen these characters. I take that back, if you’ve seen a bad horror movie, it’s those characters. The kind of characters that are so annoying that all you really do is wait for them to die off. The frustrating thing is that they don’t really die off very quickly. No no no, that’d be a kindness. Instead, the movie thinks that these characters are so developed that they deserve as much screen-time as possible. But you never learn anything about them other than Elliot and John are best friends and Elliot and Sasha are an item. There’s hints of jealousy that maybe John and Sasha are having an affair, but this subplot goes nowhere and ultimately proves useless to its own intentions, but I’ll get to that later. But wait! There’s a psychic character in this movie! Surly that‘s gotta have some depth to it! First of all… yes, you read that correctly, there is a character in this movie that’s psychic, Kim. And no, there is no reason for her to be psychic. Her powers don’t help the main characters and she’s the first “core” character to be axed off. “Uh hey, spoiler alert, Daniel!” Uh, no, because her death is heavily advertised in the trailer! I can’t spoil something that was already spoiled to us! Most pointless supernatural protagonist ever. I’ve seen Stephen King stories make better use of senseless psychics. Yeah! I went there!
Also, I try not to be too critical on actors churning out a bad performances, as I don’t usually blame them for that. I am a firm believer that if a script is bad enough, even acting giants wouldn’t be able to save it, and believe me, this script is atrocious. A good director could save it if they knew what could be done with the written lines, but… no, nothing saved it. Instead, you have some laughably awkward acting from Smith. When he figures something out about the Bye Bye Man, he talks a million miles a second with his eyes bulging out of his sockets like a hamster on coffee. There’s another scene when he’s trying to keep his mind alert and he blasts some music in his car and… gyrates. Yeah, I’m sure someone out there wants to call it dancing, but really, he looks like a spaz. But the absolute worst offender is Bonas. I genuinely can’t tell if this was simply her, or if she was given horrible direction. Either way, her performance is grating. She puts little to no effort into any of her line-reads, and I distinctly remember a scene where she’s talking to the guy that leased the house to Elliot and John, telling him how bad the house is, and I’m not shitting you, literally lets out an “ah-choo” when she sneezes. It’s… painful. You only see acting like that from improv actors quarter-assing their material. Yeah, not even half-assing, quarter-assing. It’s that bad. Maybe it was a rehearsal take that the editor foolishly left in, but whatever the case, Bonas is not painted in the best of light in this film. Well, no one was, but she got the shortest end of the stick.
So how about the titular character, Bye Bye Man. Aside from still being the silliest name you could possibly come up with for your super scary monster, where do I begin?! First of all, his design. It’s a dude in a hoodie. Isn’t that the wardrobe of ninety percent of millennials in the world? Second, even with his hood down, he just has a bunch of scars. That’s not exactly original. Even his powers of driving people insane and making them do crazy shit isn’t new. HELLRAISER (1987) did it better and was more visually grotesque. This movie is desperate to make the sound of a dropped coin scary, which fails. Shocked?! Also, the intensity of his powers aren’t consistent or sensible. Why do Kim and Mrs. Watkins (Cleo King) quickly turn insane and kill the people closest to them, but Elliot and the others take the length of the running time? Second, what is the Bye Bye Man’s motives for doing all this? Why drive people insane instead of just killing them outright himself? Or using his dog? Actually, to be fair, the dog is about the coolest thing about BB. Yes, I’m calling him BB from now on because it’s just as silly and saves time on spelling out his name. His dog is a cool zombie-ish design, covered in blood, long sharp teeth, a deformed head, it’s pretty ghoulish… but even that gets plunged down the shitter when you realize that the dog doesn’t do anything! Yeah, I know the dog’s intended purpose is to eat the murdered victims, but it never actually does! The 60’s murders still found the victims! The dog is seen chewing on the victims in later scenes, but those bite marks are never mentioned in either the news articles or the present day. So, seriously, what is the dog’s purpose? A cool design only takes you so far. What about the train? The train that is constantly seen in association with BB? Never explained. How about the coins? Never explained. What empowers BB? Saying his name. Knowing his name is what calls him and eventually gets you killed by him. So… yeah, the reporter from the 60’s that accidentally spread the name did the right thing; he went to everyone who knew and killed them. Fair enough and drank poison to kill himself. So what in the name of Zeus’ butt-hole was he thinking by writing about BB in a secret letter or carving the name that you’re not supposed to think or say, leaving it for someone to find and start the string of deaths all over again?! Everyone in this movie is stupid! Even when the characters acknowledge that everything they’re seeing isn’t real, they still fall for it and get themselves or someone else killed, even in THE EXACT SAME SCENE!!! *face-palm*
And you’re not going to believe this, but this movie ends as if it thinks it’s going to have a sequel. Uh huh… all I’m thinking about is escorting this movie to the therapy group of Sequels That Will Never Happen. Here, you’ll find Princess Daisy from SUPER MARIO BROS. (1993), Azula from THE LAST AIRBENDER (2010), all the villains from THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2 (2014), the entire Fantastic Four team from FANT4STIC (2015), and The Misfits from JEM AND THE HOLOGRAMS (2015). Plenty of crying to be heard here.
I suppose this is supposed to be the part where I mention the few good aspects of the film. Well… yeah, I guess. The only two actors that really gave a good performance for what they had were Moss and Trucco. They were very tolerable. That doesn’t mean their performances were good, per se, but they clearly tried to make their scenes work. So I guess there’s that. Also, I’ve seen worse horror films. It’s not like I went into this expecting it to be good, not that I usually do anyway with horror films, so it didn’t exactly insult me.
Don’t go see this movie, folks. If January isn’t the red flag to save your money from new releases, take my word for it as well as the word from other sources. IMDb has it at a 3.8/10 (as of 1/18/2017) and RottenTomatoes has it at a 27% (as of 1/18/2017). That should give you a pretty solid idea. It’s horribly written, terribly directed, awfully acted, and continues the tradition that makes up most modern horror films today: stupid people, making stupid decisions, that get other stupid people killed.
My honest rating for THE BYE BYE MAN: 2/5