Review by Lauryn Angel
The premise of The Bye-Bye Man is simple: saying the name of the titular character, like the Candyman or Bloody Mary, or even just thinking about him summons him. And if you mention him to someone else, they, too are brought under his spell and turned into killers. It’s a premise that has some promise. Unfortunately, the film fails to develop that promise.
Our protagonists in this film are a group of college students: Elliot (Douglas Smith), his girlfriend, Sasha (Cressida Bonas), and his best friend since childhood, John (Lucien Laviscount). The three have rented a house off-campus and look forward to unsupervised house parties and hook-ups. As you might expect, since this is a horror movie, they begin to hear strange noises and see things that aren’t really there – and this is before Sasha’s psychically sensitive friend Kim (Jenna Kanell) holds a séance and warns them about a negative presence.
The Bye-Bye Man has a few good creepy scenes and jump scares, and there are some good supporting performances from Michael Trucco, Carrie-Anne Moss, and Faye Dunaway. The jump scares are balanced by humorous scenes. And yet, the movie isn’t very memorable, largely because both the characters and the plot are under-developed. We know a little bit about Elliot because his parents’ death is mentioned multiple times and he’s sensitive about it – but we never know why. We know John is a ladies’ man because we’re told multiple times. We know next to nothing about Sasha – except that Elliot is worried that she might be cheating on him with his best friend. And despite the fact that the Bye-Bye Man causes people to commit murder, there’s very little blood. As for the Bye-Bye Man himself (Doug Jones”, as Elliot discovers, conveniently no one knows anything about him because everyone who did know anything about him died – despite the “Don’t think it, don’t say it” mantra. And aside from some effectively creepy moments early in the film, he’s just not that scary.
I’ve seen worse horror films, to be sure, but by the end, The Bye-Bye Man is a disappointing mess.
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