While 2017 has been a great year for horror movies so far, it didn’t start out that way. Here’s a look back at one of the year’s earlier efforts, as well as being one of its more forgettable, from January, THE BYE BYE MAN (2017).
THE BYE BYE MAN— what an awful title— opens in the 1960s, when we see an unhinged man with a shotgun chasing his family and neighbors, asking them if they’ve told anyone the name. Regardless of their answers, he kills them. He eventually kills himself, all in an effort to prevent the evil of the Bye Bye Man from being spread. But spread it does!
The story jumps to present day where we meet three college friends about to rent an off campus house together. There’s Elliot (Douglas Smith) and Sasha (Cressida Bonas), who are dating, and John (Lucien Laviscount), who’s been Elliot’s best friend since childhood. It doesn’t take long before they realize they picked the wrong house to rent.
At their house-warming party, attended by their college friends and Elliot’s older brother Virgil (Michael Trucco) and Virgil’s young daughter Alice (Erica Tremblay), it’s little Alice who discovers a mysterious gold coin in the upstairs bedroom. This coin later leads Elliott to find the words “Don’t say it! Don’t think it!” written inside a drawer which eventually leads him to more hidden writing, and this time it’s the name “The Bye Bye Man.” So, you can’t say it or think it, but I guess it’s okay to write it.
Meanwhile, Sasha’s friend Kim (Jenna Kanell) who is psychic decides to give the house a psychic cleansing, and in an absolutely ridiculous scene in which she must be the most powerful psychic who ever lived because she knows every single answer to every single question naysayer Elliot throws her way, she eventually receives some bad vibes from the Bye Bye Man himself and quicker than you can say séance she makes like the bye bye girl and gets the heck out of there. Well, sort of. She does stay long enough to sleep with John.
Anyway, the Bye Bye Man is unleashed and he begins to haunt our three fine college friends who find themselves experiencing strange delusions and having impulses to harm those around them. And they can’t tell anyone what’s going on because, well, you know, “don’t say it. don’t think it.” Say the Bye Bye Man, and it’s curtains for those you say it to. Whatever. These folks aren’t that clever. I mean, they don’t even try to become creative in communicating what’s going on. There are ways, after all, to get a message across without actually saying a name. Try “there’s something haunting us which we can’t think about or name” for a start.
THE BYE BYE MAN is a dreadful horror movie that really isn’t worth your time.
The acting is particularly bad. I thought the two leads, Douglas Smith as Elliot, and Cressida Bonas as Sasha were pretty awful. I didn’t find them convincing at all, and Smith goes through the whole film with a weird expression on his face, a cross between sadness and fright, regardless of what’s happening around him.
The supporting cast was a bit better. Lucien Laviscount at least showed some personality as John, and I actually liked Jenna Kanell as Kim, the psychic girl.
Doug Jones plays The Bye Bye Man, and we’ve seen Jones as other monsters as well, in OUIJA: ORIGIN OF EVIL (2016) and in CRIMSON PEAK (2015). Jones also played Abe Sapien in the HELLBOY movies.
And in a bizarre bit of casting, Faye Dunaway shows up in a bit part as the Widow Redmon. Is this the best she can get nowadays? Very sad.
The direction by Stacy Title isn’t any better. There are some awkward shots here, almost amateurish, during some scenes of dialogue, where the camera jumps from one character’s face to the other and often lingers there. It was just odd. In fact, it was so noticeable that the audience actually laughed a couple of times. It wasn’t smooth camerawork at all.
In terms of shocks and scares, again, the audience was laughing. Not a good sign. In fact, I saw it in a packed theater— which I guess explains why these movies get theatrical releases, because horror movies make money. Although good horror movies would make more money!—and on the way out I heard several people say it was the worst movie they’ve ever seen.
The script by Jonathen Penner was dull and redundant. Don’t say it. Don’t think it. How about Don’t repeat it? Over and over again we kept hearing the same phrase, and yet I left that movie not knowing much at all about who the Bye Bye Man was or what he was up to, which I guess is because nobody in the movie could say anything about him. How convenient. Let’s create a monster that the characters can’t talk about for fear of death and that way we don’t have to develop him! Er, no.
The characters were also weak, and I wasn’t interested in any of them.
I will say, that the first time we actually see the Bye Bye Man, I thought he looked kinda cool, but sadly, the more we see of him, the less cool he looks. And, the worst part is, that the Bye Bye Man has a buddy, and it’s, I guess, some huge carnivorous dog. Whatever he is, he’s the saddest looking CGI creation this side of those god-awful TWILIGHT wolves.
THE BYE BYE MAN is a weak and forgettable horror movie. In fact, I have no problem with don’t think it, don’t say it, because lucky for me, I’ve already forgotten about it. You should too.
Say bye-bye to THE BYE BYE MAN. Good riddance!