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"THE BYE BYE MAN"
(2017) (Douglas Smith, Cressida Bonas) (PG-13)


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QUICK TAKE:
Horror: Three college students move into a creepy, off-campus house and are soon stalked by a malevolent, ancient evil.
PLOT:
Tired of living on campus, Elliott (DOUGLAS SMITH) convinces his girlfriend, Sasha (CRESSIDA BONAS), and his best friend, John (LUCIEN LAVISCOUNT), to lease a nearby house. But the house is old and rundown and more than a bit creepy. The trio holds their first party, and Sasha invites her psychic friend, Kim (JENNA KANELL), to do a "spiritual cleanse" of the residence.

During a sťance, they inadvertently summon an ancient evil known as The Bye Bye Man (DOUG JONES), who commandeers your thoughts, makes you see and hear things that aren't so, and eventually drives you to madness and even murder. Elliott's brother, Virgil (MICHAEL TRUCCO), and young niece, Alice (ERICA TREMBLAY), become worried about him. But Elliott seeks to protect them by adopting a strategy of "Don't say it, don't think it" regarding The Bye Bye Man's name.

Easier said than done. When tragedy strikes, an intrepid local cop, Detective Shaw (CARRIE-ANNE MOSS), tries to get the truth out of him and his friends. Elliott, though, remains tight-lipped and seeks out the one person who may be able to help -- the Widow Redmon (FAYE DUNAWAY), whose husband died decades earlier at the hands of the fiendish demon.

OUR TAKE: 2.5 out of 10
"The Bye Bye Man" is one of those preposterous, self-serious, cheapie horror flicks that Hollywood routinely dumps in the first couple of months of each year. The problem is, this one isn't fun, well-made, or even remotely scary. It actually should have been called "The Uh Oh Man." Because something happens every couple of minutes or so that is supposed to make the audience go "Uh oh!"

Like...Uh oh! These three attractive college kids leased a really creepy off-campus house. Or...uh oh! There's obviously an evil entity lurking inside the crawl spaces and floor boards. Uh oh! The lead male character's little niece has gone wondering in the house by herself while the grown-ups are occupied downstairs. Uh oh! The lead female character's best friend is a creepy psychic girl who wants to hold a sťance. And then...uh oh! Carrie-Anne Moss appears and remembers that she used to be in movies like "The Matrix" and "Memento."

The list goes on. OK, so here's the deal. Tired of living on campus, three college kids (Douglas Smith, Cressida Bonas, and the very vampire-sounding Lucien Laviscount) do indeed move into a rundown house near their Wisconsin college and agree to split the rent. The Bye Bye Man shows up and basically wants to split all their heads. Like Candyman and Beetlejuice before him, he can only show up if you say or think his name. When he does, he wants to get inside your brain, make you see and hear things that aren't there, and then commit horrific acts of murder and other crimes.

These are modest goals as far as big-screen boogeymen go. But they don't make a lot of sense. First of all, there is no context given to The Bye Bye Man. There's no history or back-story. In other films of this nature, we know what made Freddy and Jason and Michael Myers and the Candyman and Pinhead and so on and so on. The Bye Bye Man just...is. The movie has no interest in how he came to be. It's very lazy in that regard.

And then his main objective is kind of stupid. The Bye Bye Man can only wreak havoc if people think or say his name. But if he seeks to kill you and those who hear his name...er, wouldn't that eventually make him rather...oh, I don't know...extinct! The film takes place in the present day, and it makes it very clear that the last time The Bye Bye Man was a factor in this world was 1969!

It's just a goofy, not very well thought-out concept. And director Stacy Title and hubby screenwriter Jonathan Penner swear that if they have characters repeat over and over again "Don't say it! Don't think it!" it will become iconic in the horror movie world a la "One, two, Freddy's coming for you." It's not. It just gives film reviewers like me a way to end their reviews cleverly. I'm sure more than a few will be writing something like "Don't say it! Don't think it! Don't see it!" I'd just rather wave this flick "Bye bye." I give it no more than a 2.5 out of 10 (T. Durgin).




Reviewed January 11, 2017 / Posted January 13, 2017


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