The Bye Bye Man (2017) – Film Review

“There are a few things that The Bye Bye Man did well, though. Sprinkled in amongst the bad.”

I honestly don’t know where to start with this movie. I had an inkling that it was to be nonsense ever since I learned that it was hugging tight its PG-13 rating. I don’t just want to stop going to horror movies (I’m holding out hope for a triumph, someday), but with all this audience pandering just to rope in the younger crowd…maybe I’ll just aim to start seeing them at my home theatre for free. At least then I won’t be supporting the filmmakers’ lazy attempts at entertainment.

There are a few things that The Bye Bye Man did well, though. Sprinkled in amongst the bad.

First of all, the concept of the movie is what really drew me in. A shadowy, eldritch entity with a hand in all the evil Man has ever committed? Shiny. I like that we’re never given a definitive backstory of the entity; that it’s mysterious and timeless makes it allthemore terrifying and infallible. Sure, all that sounds cool on paper, but try translating it to screen, and it falls apart like wet sand. I, personally, think the preamble story would’ve been a better one to tell—about a journalist trying to figure out just what this thing is (no spoilers)—but, silly me, that’s just my higher thinking speaking out again.

This film followed a lot of the same horror plot structure and used all the same tropes. The dialogue was lazily-delivered, and it’s no sign of a good film when one can laugh it off. Last year’s Lights Out had the same effect on me, I’m sad to say, and the whole theatre audience was laughing at that one…

All that said, though, good on the lighting techs; the mood lighting was done very well—framing the characters inside of each shot where it was used to excellent effect.

Horror isn’t what it used to be. I call Chris Stuckmann—a YouTube reviewer I’m faithful to—and his video on “The Problems with Horror Movies Today” into evidence. In this twelve-minute piece, he examines several excellent and relatively-disappointing horror installments of late. I highly recommend it to anyone who loves the genre, but hates what Hollywood has done to it.

As I said earlier, the performances were forgettable, too clean and storybook to ever exist as real people. Carrie Anne Moss’s talent was ill-used, and I saw the ending coming a mile off. The PG-13 rating really held it back, but it may or may not have been better as an R-rated show. We shall never know.

The Bye Bye Man is not the horror film I’d hoped for. Made for a measly $11M, I’d expected more from a grass-roots horror flick. 2014’s The Babadook—one I’ve referenced quite often in my examinations of the horror genre—pulled it off without a single jump-scare. It is an exemplar of “creeping terror” that much of the mainstream productions are sorely-lacking nowadays. It all boils down to pandering: studios green-light projects like The Bye Bye Man, advertise it as something that it’s not—as well as slap it with a PG-13 to bring in the kiddies—and people keep flocking to see these things. Why?

This film gets a final ‘Risk Assessment of */****. Don’t think it, don’t say it, don’t see it.

Next review: Split

Written by Evan Kern

Just a twenty-something filmie trudging through adulthood. Taking it day by day, movie by movie. Words are life...

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