Don’t think it, don’t say it, don’t think it, DON’T WATCH IT
From director Stacy Title (Hood of Horror) comes the latest teen horror that is nothing more than an execrable piece of film making unable to muster the slightest fright. If you must know the story, three teens stumble across some scrawl that reads The Bye Bye Man, and after speaking the name out loud begin to experience visions before people ultimately die. Frustratingly the film starts with a rather decent introduction, a man called Larry (Leigh Whannell) knocks at a door demanding to know if the inhabitant has told anybody about something, before going on a merciless murderous rampage with a shotgun. It’s not necessarily mysterious considering the poster and trailers prolifically enforce the idea that nobody should say or think about ‘The Bye Bye Man’, so of course these folk have, but it’s a mildly intriguing start nonetheless.
From then on it’s calamitous nosedive towards to predictability and boredom via stupidity. One scene after another we are treated to every worn scare tactic in the playbook without a speck of creativity in their build up. It doesn’t help the characters actions are so profoundly dumb that you can feel your brain cells dying as you watch. For example, Elliot, our leading man, at one point feels the best way to rid the world of this literal unspeakable evil is to throw the piece of furniture he discovered its name in into the woods outside of his house…not burn it, break it, or paint the bloody thing over, just throw it into the woods intact. Cool. When inexplicable nonsense like this isn’t forcing your intelligence to yield to idiocy, you might notice an attempt to reference or copy A Nightmare on Elm Street (I can’t tell which because it’s so poorly used). This occurs when Elliot, our ingenious lead, believes if he ignores or doesn’t believe in the Bye Bye Man, his ‘powers’ weaken and he won’t win… you know kinda like how a few teens try to beat Freddy Krueger over and over again. Sadly the efforts of the characters are just as weak as the performances of the fresh young cast. Now I don’t expect ground breaking performances from youngsters in a horror film, but I do expect not to laugh at them.
As we’re on a roll at the moment, let us turn our attention to the spirit/ghost/entity/Doug Jones in costume. The Bye Bye Man at no point in the film receives an origin or even a clear motive. The extent of his story and development is he owns a ghost dog, why we never learn, his arrival is signalled by train noises that are never explained, and he doesn’t like to be forgotten about. If there is one thing we can take away from The Bye Bye Man it’s this, if we do as the tagline says and don’t think its name and don’t say its name then nobody will have to suffer at its hands again and the world will be a better place.