Written by: Jonathan Penner, Robert Schneck (Novel)
Directed by: Stacy Title
Starring: Douglas Smith, Lucien Laviscount, Cressida Bonas, Carrie-Anne Moss
Running Time: 96 minutes
A college couple along with their best friend move in to a house near their campus and discover the origins of The Bye Bye Man – the root of unspeakable evil.
Don’t Think It, Don’t Say It
Elliot (Douglas Smith) has it all – scholarship at a top university, a gorgeous girlfiend Sasha (Cressida Bonas) and a loyal BFF John (Lucien Laviscount). They decide to move in together just off campus into a house that’s long been empty.
Soon Elliot discovers a nightstand in the basement of the house which has the words ‘’Don’t think it, Don’t say it’’ inscribed in it, along with the name that would make even Lord Voldemort proud – ‘The Bye Bye Man’.
Surely enough, merely speaking the name brought about unspeakable evil into their lives and each one of them started experiencing troubles with their minds. Hallucinations were becoming common and paranoia was creeping in from every angle. The trio decided to dig deeper into the history of this evil in order to escape from being victimized.
A Cliche Title
Director Stacy Title (The Last Supper, The Devil Wears Black) is back after an 18-year hiatus to scare audiences – or so she thought. Artists who take such long breaks from the industry usually come back with a bang, but this wasn’t the bang Stacy would’ve expected.
The film is as muddled as it gets, with nothing except a promising premise. The film is simple and that is its downfall. Maybe her script-writer husband Jonathan Penner is to be blamed for more plot holes than scares in this film.
The start was solid, with a flashback to Wisconsin in 1969 where Mr. Larry is seen cleaning up his neighborhood with a shotgun for uttering a name that shouldn’t even be thought of. But that start wasn’t backed up by any part of the first two acts. When it finally does connect, it is so feeble you end up wishing it hadn’t.
The entirety of the film felt hurried and the characters don’t really have any depth. If you can’t feel the plight of the characters in such a movie, you might as well not watch it.
Then there’s The Bye Bye Man himself, who looks like a depressed Freddy Krueger who went on a diet. Nothing of his origin is highlighted and he hardly has any screen time to make his presence felt.
The film is just compiled horribly. Even the FX team couldn’t save this one. Take for example, the hound, which looked like a cheap rendition of a 90s cartoon character. The music by The Newton Brothers is the only positive in this film, other than its promising story, which turned out to be a dud.
Don’t Act It
Among the plethora of wrong decisions made by the makers, the casting team may be one. The main lead Elliot, played by Douglas Smith (Vinyl, Miss Sloane), looked like he was in a hurry to wrap up the shoot and head on to more interesting projects. This comes as a surprise as he has had a string of decent performances of late.
Even more perplexing is Carrie-Anne Moss’s (The Matrix, Memento) decision to take part in such a project. Her character Detective Shaw was an easy one for someone of her caliber.
The other two leads were Cressida Bonas (Doctor Thorne) as Sasha and Lucien Laviscount (Scream Queens, Honeytrap) as John. Both put in average shifts but nothing outstanding. Jenna Kanell (Vici) plays a psychopathic teenager and pulls off the role with a creepy vibe.
The other interesting character which could’ve been exploited much more was Elliot’s brother, played by Michael Trucco (Next, Hush). Trucco did a good job right until the end when one particular scene required him to be emotional, but he displayed the emotions of a potato.
All in All
The Bye Bye Man is not a good start to the year for horror fans as it does not offer anything new in the genre. It had a promising foundation but ultimately fails to be nothing more than a bland mix of borrowed aspects. Some may argue that the ulterior message was deeper, but the real message is this: Don’t think it, Don’t say it, Don’t watch it.
Watch it if you’re: In the mood for some cheap scares.