- Movie Rating -

The Bye Bye Man (2017)

| January 10, 2017

Ah!  January at the movies; when theaters exude the hangover of Christmas leftovers, Oscar hopefuls and a small number of vacuous lackadaisical new releases that weren’t good enough to get a release in the other 11 months on the calendar.  This has become the spawning ground for your average negligible PG-13 horror movie, the kind of lazy nonsense guaranteed to play an empty theater.  The burnt offering for 2017: The Bye Bye Man, a movie so forgettable that large chunks of the film have already left my brain as I struggle to write this review.

The movie is too uninteresting to be terrible, yet so unoriginal as to be almost cute.  It has a plot that feels like a patchwork quilt, sewn together from the pieces and parts of other horror movies and, worse, a PG-13 rating that is so in force here that when a person is shot with a shotgun, there is no blood.  What blood exists in rest of the film is dyed black for no reason.  Added to that, the movie’s sole sex scene is edited so badly that we can only deduce that sexual congress is in session because we hear a second or two of moaning.  Who was this movie made for?  Throughout the movie I got the feeling that maybe I accidentally got a television edit.  Surely not one would intentionally make a movie this choppy and nonsensical.  I have too much faith in mankind.

Not that you give a rat’s ass, but there’s a plot in place here.  It opens with a flashback scene to 1969 wherein a panicky man runs around his neighborhood asking neighbors if they’ve said a particular name out loud.  When they confess that they have, he produces a shotgun and goes on a rampage.

Cut to the present day wherein in we meet three uninteresting college students, Elliot (Doug Smith), Sasha (Cressida Bonas) and John (Lucien Laviscount) who are moving off-campus to rent a house so spacious that their parents must be shelling out wads of cash to provide.  The kids can barely get in the door when weird things begin to happen.  Sasha develops an alarming cough; Elliot finds money that seems to disappear and reappear; and John finds a nightstand with the words “Don’t Say It.  Don’t Think It” scribbled inside the drawer.  The trio begins seeing things, such as a bizarre cloak in the corner of the bedroom that could easily have been shoved in the closet or thrown away but is, instead, left around because, hey, this movie has to have its fake-out.  Right?

Standard to the formula Elliot does some research in the library, but he does it via the weakest search engine in the history of mankind.  Seriously, when he types in “Bye Bye Man” he gets 0 results.  How many times have you gotten 0 results for anything on search engine.  Even more quizzical is that when he types “Don’t Say It.  Don’t Think It” he gets 1 result.  What search engine is this?

Anyway, he unearths the information that if you say the words “Bye Bye Man” it will summon a demon that will alter your perception of the world around you.  It’s one of those things where you’re so scared by the illusion that you end up doing something tragic in real life.  Yeah, it’s that old dodge.

Late in the film The Bye Bye Man does show up.  He’s a tall, zombie-like being with bone white skin and long fingers.  What he does when he corners his victims is a real head scratcher.  Apparently, his MO is to walk up to this intended victim and . . . wiggle his finger in their face.  Trust me, it makes even less sense when you’re watching it.  And of course, the major question mark about The Bye Bye Man is that he’s played by Doug Jones of Pan Labyrinth and Hellboy and the mother ghost in Crimson Peak.  What is he doing in this movie?  Heck, what am I doing in this movie?

I never knew 98 minutes could feel like an eternity.  The movie has a trajectory and it goes there via a lazy screenplay that is hammered together with the bare minimum of effort.  But its harmless.  PG-13 harmless.  “Goosebump” harmless.  I won’t be able to bring myself to put it on the list of the worst films of the year next January.  It would be like kicking a puppy.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(2017) View IMDB Filed in: Horror