The Bye Bye Man Review
Don’t think it, don’t say it… and don’t waste your time on it!
When Elliot discovers some bizarre etchings on the bottom of an old side table drawer, things start to take a definite turn for the worse.The Bye Bye Man: Four little words that we are instructed should never be spoken or thought about – that is, if you want to survive. This becomes the challenge faced by Elliot (Douglas Smith) who discovered these words after moving into an old house with his girlfriend Sasha (Cressida Bonas) and best friend John (Lucien Laviscount). But it’s when their first house party winds down that Elliot really lets the cat out of the bag. Sasha’s friend Kim (Jenna Kanell) is a spiritual type who after performing a sage blessing on the house is asked to prove herself through what else but a séance.Needless to say things go from bad to worse for these four college students, who quickly realise that the mantra ‘don’t say it, don’t think it’ soon become words to live by. As jealously and paranoia ensue along with strange visions and a bloke in a hooded coat, Elliot tries to find out more about the so called ‘Bye Bye Man’. Through flash backs we learn that the only way to stop the madness caused by the name that must not be spoken is to remove any memory of him completely - and by any means necessary. And I’m afraid that’s about all we ever learn.
Now, I am a big fan of the ‘less is more’ ethos when it comes to horror/scary films but The Bye Bye Man has taken this to a whole new level, one that doesn’t make even a vague attempt to make the pieces of the film fit together. With a screenplay written by Jonathan Penner adapted from a short story by Robert Damon Schneck and directed by Stacy Title, The Bye Bye Man is an idea that has so much potential to be a great film. The theme of fear for example, is played with via the manifestations the three college students experience, which seems like a good idea, but so little is attention is paid to the characters that you end up not really caring what happens to them.
Hardly any tension or suspense is built up and the very few instances it is, the pay off is hardly worth the wait. The possibility of achieving a light-bulb moment is just about enough to keep engagement levels peaked but this is never realised at any point. The filmmakers go to great lengths to set up an elaborate backstory behind the film's menacing dark entity but never bother to let the audience in on what it is, resulting in a film that just meanders its way to the finish line ticking the boxes of horror film tropes as it goes along. With background added in that gets no explanation and places that lack any detail whatsoever the film doesn’t manage to find its bearings.
An elaborate set up and no pay-off makes The Bye Bye Man a disappointing watch
You could forgive the lack of story development if perhaps the acting was its one saving grace, but even that is only half decent at best. Smith plays Elliot, the cool kid in his Dead Kennedys t-shirt with the cute girlfriend who’s eager to settle down foregoing the so called promiscuous student lifestyle. Elliot is the only one who really drives the narrative and seems to care about what is going on, doing his best to try and put an end to the horrors that befall his friends. Laviscount as John is about as stiff as it gets. The sporty, buff type who seems to only care about scoring with the ladies and doesn’t bring anything worthwhile to the table. Bonas’s character is stilted from the get-go, given absolutely nothing to work with apart from playing the girlfriend. And with small roles played by Faye Dunaway and Carrie-Anne Moss one can only ask: what the heck were they thinking?
The Bye Bye Man starts off with a promise of a good scare but unfortunately that promise was broken just as I got comfortable. My advice, say bye bye to The Bye Bye Man and save your money.
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