UK Release Date: 13th January 2017
Runtime: 96 minutes
Director: Stacy Title
Writer: Jonathan Penner
Starring: Douglas Smith, Cressida Bonas, Lucien Laviscount, Carrie-Anne Moss, Doug Jones, Leigh Whannell, Faye Dunaway
Synopsis: A trio of teens who move into a cavernous, empty house at university soon find themselves pursued by a demon-like figure who thrives on people spreading his name around.
If you’re reading this review and haven’t seen The Bye Bye Man, then don’t. It’s bad on every single level.
Let’s start with the plot itself. Three friends move into a house together, which is surprisingly spacious considering they are college students, and find a mysterious night stand that mentions the name of ‘The Bye Bye Man’. The more his name is spread around by people telling each other about him, the more power the Bye Bye Man gets. At least, I think that’s the premise. The movie doesn’t make it clear.
It feels as if director Stacy Title and writer Jonathan Penner wanted to create a memorable trenchcoat wearing bad guy like Candyman, but they have failed miserably with an uninspired man in a cheap hoodie with a slightly burnt-looking face. There’s some mention of coins being linked to his arrival, without any real explanation other than a single shoe-horned line about coins and philosophy. There’s also a bizarre and meaningless series of cutaways to a train and some of the worst CGI I’ve seen since the 90s in regards to the central antagonist’s utterly ridiculous pet hellhound.
The Bye Bye Man attempts to shove in so many elements that you spend more time pondering why they are there than remembering what they all are. It leaves the plot as a mess with no sense of the title character’s motive, what he can do or what he’s trying to achieve. At the start of the movie, there’s a flashback to a man who tried to put an end to the Bye Bye Man by slaughtering everyone he had told about the character, in hilariously bloodless fashion. This is presented as a solution, except that the Bye Bye Man wants to kill people and needs to spread his message, but he can’t kill everyone… but he still aspires to kill everyone… and oh no, I’ve gone cross-eyed.
None of this complication is helped by the abysmal performances that fail to sell any of this as scary. Douglas Smith, in the lead role, does a serviceable job at best, despite looking like he hasn’t slept in five years. The Razzie Hall of Fame award should go to Cressida Bonas as Sasha. I spent the majority of the movie rolling around in my seat in shocked laughter at how unconvincing her delivery of every line was. It’s rare to see a performance so bad that you wonder if the actress is from some distant planet and knows how to say words, but has no idea on how they are to be inflected or used together in a coherent form of speech. That’s without mentioning her abysmal attempt to hide her English accent.
The failure runs deep all the way down to the direction by Stacy Title. The lack of knowledge of film composition and ability to capture emotional resonance is astounding. It was so bad in fact that I assumed the name Stacy Title was the new Alan Smithee. Large sections of the film are shot in flat wide shots, many scenes are either under or over exposed and the editing lacks any sort of flow or tension, despite the film straining to build it.
While I think The Bye Bye Man is a deeply terrible horror movie, there are some unintentional laughs throughout and especially in the second half. I would not recommend watching this in the cinema, but if you want to watch a movie that’s so bad it’s almost good with a few beers, there are worse choices. The Bye Bye Man is a train wreck – a bonfire of bad. You should only see it after it has left cinemas and ended up in the deepest, darkest recesses of your Netflix catalogue. Although, even that might be too good for it.
Pop or Poop?
The Bye Bye Man is unbelievably inept. It’s astounding that a movie that feels on par with straight to video B-movies from the 1980s has not only seen a major release, but also been rather successful at the box office. Don’t say it. Don’t think it. Don’t see it.
Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.