The Bye Bye Man Review
The Bye Bye Man
"Don't say it, don't think it. Don't think it, don't say it."
The Bye Bye Man (2017) is a supernatural horror film written by Jonathan Penner and directed by Stacy Title. The movie is based off a chapter in the book The President's Vampire. The film stars Douglas Smith (Elliot), Lucien Laviscount (John), and Cressida Bonas (Sasha). The plot follows a group of college students who move in together to an off-campus housing unit. Eventually, mysterious and inexplicable events occur as the result of hearing one simple name.
In 1969, a mass murder occurs inside a residential neighborhood. The man responsible constantly asks people he's about to kill if they told anyone else about the "name." If they have, then they are shot dead. Eventually, he turns the gun on himself. Now fast-forward to present day, Elliot, his girlfriend Sasha, and his close friend John move into a house off-campus together. Soon, they experience hallucinations and strange activity. Then, people begin to die.
In its opening scene, the movie showed a lot of promise. The first scene as I mentioned earlier involving the guy and his shotgun is truly terrifying. The cinematography is done so exceptionally well that it elicits a feeling of dread and anxiety. The long takes are haunting as the killings take place; we see from a distance people running into their houses to eventually meet their fate.
The characters in the film are given importance. And you feel the bond of their friendship. Through the actors' performances you feel the comradery and the love they have for each other. Elliot loves Sasha deeply and they have a trusting relationship. Best friends Elliot and John have a trusting relationship as well. In one way or another, you care about this group of teenagers which makes anything that happens to them even more horrifying.
However, where the film showed promise in the beginning, the rest fall victim to fluctuations in quality. Essentially, a series of good and bad evenly spread throughout. Two goods, are the special effects and sound mixing used. The hallucinations are well done and effective when they come in at times where you least expect it. However, one bad, is its cheap use of jump scares. And another is the movie's signature line can sometimes devolve into camp territory. The theme is hammered on way too strongly and when a character repeats it over and over and over again it loses a lot of its seriousness.
The main attraction, the Bye Bye Man himself, makes very few appearances. The scenes where the man himself does show are brief but menacing. If he appeared more, then the movie would have more of those real scary moments without resorting to cheap scares. In addition, there is little known about him. Anything about told about the man is fragmented and told through other characters and their experiences. It would have been better to know more about who he is and why he chooses to haunt people with his curse.
The Bye Bye Man is not by any means a bad horror film. There are genuine scares achieved through special effects and CGI. Plus, the characters are sympathetic and feel authentic. What's disappointing is the film's conventional use of jump scares to elicit fear. In the beginning, it did all the right techniques but for some reason they decided to go through the typical B-horror route. Its characters, loosely tied together storyline, cheap freights, and less than desirable antagonist lower the quality of this film. But, its small moments of terror and freight make it a worthy watch.