Note: Before I start the review just a quick bit of info. I missed all of October due to University assessments, sorry. However, until the end of the year, I’m going to be retroactively reviewing movies that came out this year that I missed on initial release since I didn’t start doing this until about June. This is because I feel like I have time now… and because I want to make sure I don’t miss anything when I do a best/worst list at the end of the year. For these reviews, I’ll put the official date of release along with when I saw it just so everyone can laugh at how slow I am to the party
Date Released: 13th January 2017
Date Seen: 29th October 2017
Don’t think it
Don’t say it
And by “It” I mean this movie
The Bye Bye Man is a horror film (Allegedly) about a bunch of kids who stumble upon the name of a mysterious creature known simply as “The Bye Bye Man”. Once you know his name, you’re finished. The knowledge of this name will make you see things that aren’t there, do things you wouldn’t do, and occasionally see Lucien Laviscount naked which is apparently a bad thing? I don’t know, personally any evil who makes me see a naked Lucien Laviscount is OK in my book… when I have to make this kind of joke early on in a review, there’s your warning sign of what kind of movie this is.
To give this movie as much credit as I can, the opening scene is genuinely good. A simple shot of a man going to see someone, demanding to know if they said “The name” to anyone and upon finding out that they did, shooting the person with a shotgun. It’s actually a well-crafted scene that built the tension and power this name holds. It told you instantly that this name is powerful, disturbing, intense and will cause people to do horrible things… and then the title card pops up on screen and you proceed to uncontrollably laugh because there is no way in hell that the name “The Bye Bye Man” is even remotely scary.
The big problem with this film is that its main villain is laughably awful. The core concept is great, it worked for the Nightmare on Elm Street series (Remember how the original was built on this idea of “If we’re scared of him he’s powerful, but if we refuse to be afraid he’s done”?) so why not take it out of the dream world and just have the film be about paranoia and fear creating this villain? Well, maybe have the villain look scarier than some guy with a shrimp allergy and give him a better name, you might have a shot there. Especially when you have Doug Jones under that makeup, you have an icon of horror and you give him grey skin that looks like it needs some moisturiser. Good job, top marks, 10/10 for clever ideas there.
Also, the CGI is just stupidly laughable. The dog looks kinda like something lifted straight out of a 90’s straight to video movie, except somehow worse. I actually cackled when I first saw in completely on screen. When all they do is show the eyes, there’s some actual tension to be had there because that creature could be anything but if you show it and it just looks like a giant turd with legs and teeth, it’s going to be hilarious. What’s also hilarious is the idea that typing “The Bye Bye Man” will get absolutely no search results on any form of search engine… that’s a plot point, that stupidity is a goddamn plot point.
Can someone please get this film a better editor. I don’t know if they didn’t shoot enough footage or if they just didn’t plan properly but holy crap is this film poorly edited, just the way it transitions from scene to scene is stupid. There’s one scene where the film looks warped and I think they’re trying to make us understand what one of the characters is feeling but it’s poorly done, nauseating and it’s never repeated again for this character. I think they just learned how to do a cool stretching effect on Premiere and decided “Screw it, that’ll work”
This is a film that had so much potential in its concept and even had some relatively acceptable scenes. It wasted all of that on this stupidly named villain with a stupid look and a stupid pet dog. Throw a lackluster script on top, add a dash of poor editing choices for good measure and you get The Bye Bye Man, a film that I doubt I will be saying or thinking about ever again.