The Bye Bye Man (2017)

The Bye Bye Man poster.jpgDon't Think It, Don't Say It, Don't See It

Director: Stacy Title
Running Time: 96 Minutes
Starring: Douglas Smith, Lucien Laviscount, Cressida Bonas, Doug Jones, Carrie-Anne Moss, Faye Dunaway, Michael Trucco, Cleo King, Leigh Whannell

As this reviewer sat in the theatre, waiting for the film to start, a mistake was made. Where the picture would've began, a trailer for The Space Between Us, a young adult sci-fi romance, was instead played. But that was nothing compared to the next mistake, where the cinema staff played a cheap and tacky straight to DVD picture, as opposed to a film which warrants a cinema release.

The film opens in 1969, on a panicked character, played by Leigh Whannell. He's frantically asking questions about something vague, to see if somebody he knows told anyone else about it. It's a well played scene that does a good job in setting up the picture (even if it's distracting how bloodless it is), which the remainder of the film fails to live up to.

Flash forward to the present day, where college student Elliot (Douglas Smith) has just moved into an off-campus house with his girlfriend Sasha (Cressida Bonas), as well as life-long friend and walking cliché, John (Lucien Laviscount). Among the furniture, Elliot finds warnings written in a furniture desk, along with the name "The Bye Bye Man". From there on, things don't feel the same for this trio. Horrendous scratching sounds come around at night, they all begin seeing things that aren't there, and there's the feeling of somebody watching them.

Image result for the bye bye man youtube
It shouldn't be a chore to care for characters that are stalked by a horrendous supernatural entity, but, my goodness, it feels like one heck of a task to do so. It would help if the main trio of actors did more than half-heartedly make a worried face, but the script doesn't do a lot to help them. Their characters are poorly defined, as speaking yawn inducing exposition is of more importance than basic intelligence. One character mentions how The Bye Bye Man can make you see things which aren't there, before ignoring their own warning and running towards what's most obviously a trick.

As for the villain hounding these characters? In a genre full of franchises, led by characters named Chucky, Candyman, and Pinhead, it says something that The Bye Bye Man is a name which doesn't get any less ridiculous. In spite of make up work that's not bad, the character design is too derivative, leaving any intimidation to be brought thanks to Doug Jones alone. Then there's the dog always with him, brought alive by effects work that feels like a relic from a 90s PlayStation game. It makes the effects in London Has Fallen looking revolutionary.

To be fair, Stacy Title does manage to deliver a few decent mood setters, but falls back on cheap jump scares a bit often. Even if they're used much less than the typical January horror flick, it's lazy enough to become too much. It's all a shame, because there's genuinely something decent here, about the power of an idea, and how the strongest action is ensuring the villain is absolutely forgotten about. What a shame it's buried within poor material and lacking handling.

There are the inkling of something decent within The Bye Bye Man, but it's lost among characters one struggles to care for, stiff attempts at acting, and an overuse of exposition that threatens to lull one to sleep. Ultimately, the film is as lazy, forgettable and likely to make ones eyes roll as the villains own name.