Reviewed by Alicia Glass
Review Rating: 6.5 out of 10
“Don’t say it, don’t think it,” is the tagline for the movie and more or less the entire plot too, so let’s dive right into this!
We begin back in the sixties, atmospheric a bit like The Amityville Horror, in that we’re basically treated to Mr. Everyman who suddenly pulls out a shotgun and starts blasting away at people who’ve heard the Name. This is the only way, apparently, to end the reign of terror of the Bye Bye Man, to take out every single last person who heard the name and lastly, take yourself out too. Okay, I’m with you, onward we go to the present.
College kids Elliot (Douglas Smith), John (Lucien Laviscount) and whats-her-face, Sasha (Cressida Bonas), have found this great place off-campus to rent together, it just needs some fixing up. Fine, right? But Elliot has adequacy and trust issues, thinking Sasha has a thing for the admittedly much-smoother John, whereas John never had any problems getting plenty of fluff on the side and just wants to study and room with his lifelong friends. The character Sasha, sadly, is barely there the entire time and remains only a bone for alpha dogs to hallucinate over when the hauntings begin.
So of course a new place to live needs a housewarming party, and of course one of John’s friends, Kim (Jenna Kanell), happens to be a “sensitive”, and wants to cleanse the house with some incense burning and perhaps a séance. Somewhere during the party, the precocious little daughter of Elliot’s brother Virgil (Michael Trucco), Alice (Erica Tremblay), has to wander around upstairs and finds a suspicious stand with reappearing coins and some nasty psychotic writing, which seems to serve as the opening catalyst for the Bye Bye Man (Doug Jones) to begin his evil work. And honestly, these three characters – the psychic friend, the concerned older brother and his charming daughter – are the best characters of the movie, getting the most love from what little story there is. The Bye Bye Man himself doesn’t count, as he never speaks and yknow, just hunts and destroys. (But we forever love Doug Jones.)
So after the séance goes seriously wrong, Kim freaks out and winds up dead, and the slaughter has officially begun! Like a disbelieving dummy, Elliot starts trying to research the Bye Bye Man as much as he can, passing on the curse and barely being aware of it. Apparently BBM causes all sorts of person-specific hallucinations whilst hunting them, and can handle multiple victims at a time, and what’s with the Hellhound familiar anyway? Very little in the film is given much in the way of backstory, and while there’s plenty of creepy atmosphere to make up for it, even a morsel of why the Bye Bye Man apparently eats people who know his name would have been nice.
Elliot does get one truly great tense scene, when he’s pleading with Detective Shaw (Carrie-Anne Moss) to not make him give the Bye Bye Man’s name already, and it would have added a great deal to the morbid atmosphere if that scene had been expanded on even a little. Faye Dunaway makes a sadly brief cameo as the widow Redmon, the wife of Mr. Everyman from the beginning, too.
The general consensus after the film was that The Bye Bye Man is a nice little creepy jaunt to start a burgeoning horror fan on, seemingly aimed at 12+ or so, with that sad PG-13 rating and limp story. Creeptastic atmosphere and even the legendary Doug Jones as the Bye Bye Man himself, awesome in nothing but makeup and sheer presence, doesn’t always make up for a smidgen of story.
The Bye Bye Man haunts theaters Friday the 13th of January 2017!
And many thanks to the fine folks of Horrible Imaginings Film Festival for the early screening of The Bye Bye Man!