The first horror movie of the year is here and it’s a doozy for all the wrong reasons: The Bye Bye Man! The following review will be spoiler free so that you can go see the movie for yourself (although you probably shouldn’t). Make sure to comment at the bottom of the page with your own thoughts!
Directed By: Stacy Title
Written By: Jonathan Penner
Starring: Douglas Smith, Cressida Jones, Lucien Laviscount, Doug Jones, Carrie-Anne Moss, and Faye Dunaway
We follow Elliot (Smith), Sasha (Jones), and John (Laviscount) as they all move into a new house together off the campus of their college. Everything seems fine until they find a piece of furniture in the house that is connected to the Bye Bye Man who gains power over people the more they say his name or think about him. As the idea of the Bye Bye Man seeps into the minds of our three leads, we begin to see the wrath of our villain.
I had my reservations about this movie since it’s a low-budget horror movie coming out in January. The month is notorious for having less than stellar horror movies that unfortunately almost always make their money back, urging major movie distributors to continue to make them without much care. However, The Bye Bye Man has a great premise going for it. If done correctly, The Bye Bye Man himself has the opportunity to join the other iconic horror villains. A villain that takes a stronger hold of you the more you think about him is as clever as it is scary.
Moreover, Doug Jones is a great character actor to make the villain. He might not be a household name (probably due to the fact that he almost always under makeup of some kind), but he always gives inspired performances whether it be in Pan’s Labyrinth as the Pale Man or even in Hellboy as Abe Sapien. He has an uncanny ability to make a completely fantastical character seem real.
What I Liked
I will give this movie credit for having a tense, and even creepy, opening scene. No spoilers obviously, but the cold open set the film in motion very well as we begin by seeing a man attempting to rid the world of the idea of the Bye Bye Man. This was the one moment in the film that focused on dread and terror in a character.
Lol jk, the entire scene is overexposed and shot like a comedy skit. In actuality, nothing in this movie is worth watching unless viewed in an ironic manner.
What I Didn’t Like
Acting can make or break a film. And in the case of The Bye Bye Man, the acting of our three leads makes the film fall really flat. A good horror film builds upon likeable lead characters that we cheer for to beat their supernatural foe. However, from the first sequence of dialogue from these three, you immediately want them to meet their demise at the hands of the Bye Bye Man. I can’t imagine the script was well-written for this movie, but our three leads are terribly unconvincing and even laughable at times.
However, in a horror film you can get away with subpar acting at times if you follow it up with a creepy vibe and white-knuckled scares. But a lot of the attempted scares just ended with the audience laughing. Most, if all, of the scares are carried out with practically zero grace or care. This film may end up getting a cult following down the road that view it sarcastically because they’re definitely some unplanned laughs to be had due to uneasy direction.
The Bye Bye Man also has a serious pacing issue. For the first 45 minutes or so of the film, practically nothing happens to the three main characters, which leads us to have to deal with poor acting as they crux of our “entertainment.” I saw what the film was going for in trying to slowly ratchet up the tension as the Bye Bye Man slowly takes hold, but it was not done effectively whatsoever. The film was also weirdly edited, which attributes to this pacing issue. Scenes abruptly cut and change, sometimes even cutting away from a possible scare to more bad dialogue.
What I Didn’t Like…Continued
The Bye Bye Man initially had an R-rating but then was marked down to a PG-13 rating. This fact makes me wonder if there were a lot of scares early in the film that the MPAA deemed unworthy of a PG-13 movie. This type of move, if true, appears to be a decision based completely on profit for the distribution company so that it would allow for a wider audience to see the movie. Either way, the PG-13 rating definitely hampers this film in unnecessary ways, leaving you to witness horribly clichéd horror plot points over and over again.
All and all, The Bye Bye Man boils down to a practically unwatchable film unless viewed in a sarcastic way. There’s too much ironic enjoyment in the last half hour of this film to give it an F grade, but it gets pretty darn close. This movie could get a reboot years down the line and be incredibly scary if put in the right hands. Until then, stream another horror movie like The Conjuring and save your money!
Thanks for reading! Have you seen The Bye Bye Man? Better yet (since you shouldn’t see this movie in theaters), who’s your favorite horror icon? Comment down below with your thoughts!
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