The Bye Bye Man (2017, USA, d. Stacy Title, 96 minutes)
by Noah Damron
It wouldn’t be January without a C-level horror film and this year is no different.
From the director of the classic film Snoop Dogg’s Hood of Horror, The Bye Bye Man follows a group of college students (Douglas Smith, Cressida Bonas, Lucien Laviscount) who decide to rent a house off campus. When one of them finds a drawer with carvings that have “don’t think it, don’t say it” and the word Bye Bye Manengraved in it, they say the name of the titular character and like dumb teenagers in horror films, they begin to see terrible things and die one-by-one.
I’ll just come out and say it, this is one of the worst films I have ever seen in a theater! As a lover of genre filmmaking, I can forgive most anything as long as I get a few good scares out of the deal, but this film couldn’t even get it’s obvious jump scares to work! Shot on a small budget of $6 million, I honestly don’t see where any of the money went. The film is so amateurishly shot, it would appear the cinematographer let a group of middle schoolers light the damn thing! I’ve seen films with literally no budget look better than this.
The acting is ranges from bland to downright atrocious. Lead by Douglas Smith, neither Smith nor the writer seem interested at all in making a compelling lead character. Smith’s character, Elliot, is as generic a character as they come. Elliot’s best friend, John (Lucien Laviscount), doesn’t fare much better. The characters only trait is he is a jock and may or may not be fooling around with Elliot’s girlfriend. Speaking of which, the character, Sasha (Cressida Bonas), suffers the worst treatment of the cast. Bonas gives one of the worst performances in a mainstream film I have had the displeasure of witnessing. Whenever there is a moment of terror, Bonas always seems lost, never knowing what mark to hit or what emotion to have. The only remarkable thing about the cast is how the filmmakers were able to snag Carrie-Anne Moss and Faye Dunaway. Yes, you read that correctly, FAYE DUNAWAY MAKES A CAMEO!
Written by the director’s husband, the screenplay is mash-up of lazy horror cliches, remarkably giant plot holes and muddled mythology. There is not a single ounce of originality or creativity in this script, which begs the question: how did this even get made? That’s just one of many unanswered questions this film brings forth. Why does our main character always hear a train? What’s the significance of the coin? What’s with the Bye Bye Man’s terribly rendered CGI dog that manifests itself from wallpaper? Where did the Bye Bye Man come from? What exactly IS the Bye Bye Man? WHY DOES THIS FILM EXIST? This film provides more questions than answers!
Director Stacy Title may be able to direct a decent horror flick with the right script, but this does her no favors. Title is at least able to move the camera in interesting ways, but that is a minor pro in a sea of cons. There is no interesting visual style, nothing to separate itself from other mindless horror fare, even the design of the Bye Bye Man himself isn’t frightening in the slightest.
The Bye Bye Man is somehow worse than your usual January horror fare. It is terribly inept, amateurishly shot, laughably acted and worst of all… it’s not scary! At the very least, they could’ve had *NSYNC play during a scene to lighten the mood. The only reason I’m not giving this zero stars is because I was able to laugh at the terrible attempts at scares and the horrible acting.