The year is currently 2017 and we are in a year with a promising horizon for horror movies. With major titles to huge existing franchises to look forward to, a lot of other films can be easily overlooked. Although I anticipated seeing THE BYE BYE MAN in theaters, it wasn’t necessarily what I was looking to catch for my first movie of the year. This is simply due to the fact that it’s something that meshes perfectly with the current popular demand in horror movies, the supernatural, the easy watching ability and the PG-13 rating to make it available to a wider audience. However, all of this is the reason I left the theater with a lot to say about Stacy Title’s THE BYE BYE MAN.
The premise of the movie is very easy to follow and captures you into the plot relatively quickly. Three college kids move into an old house off of campus together. Tow of the characters, Elliot (Douglas Smith) and Sasha (Cressida Bonas) are a couple as the third character, John (Lucien Laviscount), is the long time best friend of Elliot’s. As they settle in to their home which was supposed to be fully furnished, they investigate the basement and discover the furniture. This is when things start to unfold a bit more. Prior to the film jumping into the primary story of our main characters, the film opens up with a brief history of events involving The Bye Bye Man which was something I found myself rather enjoying. As we progress, the supernatural entity that is The Bye Bye Man starts to become more and more apparent throughout the film, all the way up until the climax.
The characters, in my opinion, were easily hateable which made the unfortunate events that played out in the movie a bit more satisfying to watch unfold. Elliot plays a very cynical and straight-forward individual, often shown wearing band shirts such as Joy Division or another early 80’s punk band and making slightly crude situational remarks. It was a bit cliche in my opinion to have John be Elliot’s best friend because John is the typical “handsome” “buff” athletic jock type, which Elliot even makes a remark about. Then there is Sasha, Elliot’s girlfriend. Sasha seemed to be a bit more of a neutral character and didn’t seem to sway much when conflict arose between John Elliot due to The Bye Bye Man’s influence.
One thing that I found myself really enjoying was the set design for the house. It appeared to be an obviously old home, with odd patterned wallpaper that seemed to be peeling away. Once the characters entered their new home, I could almost catch a wiff of that “old house smell” because the look and feel of the house was captured very well. In a way, it reminded me of THE EVIL DEADwhen they first arrived at the cabin. The flashbacks to the previous era that are featured a few times throughout the movie really captured that time period both within and outside the home.
The storyline of The Bye Bye Man and the entity itself, is actually fairly interesting as it held my attention consistently and kept my interest during the duration of the entire film. “Don’t Say It, Don’t Think It” is the mantra you find being repeated throughout the entire film, and for an understand reason that is quite sinister. As for the scares in the film, they were a tad jumpy. Although there was some pretty decent camera work that assisted in more subtle scares, the majority of them were jump scares which I find horror movies nowadays almost solely relying on. There were a few “scary” scenes that were not featured in the trailer that I enjoyed, as well as some scenes in the trailer that they conserved fairly well as to not spoil too much.
The effects were one thing that I enjoyed on some aspects and was disappointed with on others. In terms of gore and practical effects, which is what I typically prefer, there was very little. As for the rest of the effects, well, they were effective. The thing I enjoyed the most about this movie was the way the entire “supernatural” situation played out amongst the three friends/roommates. The film had a very heavy psychological aspect to it which led to jealousy, anger and confusion for our three leads. This created turmoil and tension which fed the fire that was my desire for the dread.
This brings me to my next point, and one that I enjoyed the most with this film; the total and utter dread that underlined the entire movie. By no means is this movie a happy one and I think that is why I left the theater actually feeling satisfied despite my beefs about some of the tropes used. I don’t want to spoil the ending, but believe me when I say that this movie is carries that theme of dread through and through.
Overall, THE BYE BYE MAN is not my typical go-to type for horror films, although I appreciated the movie for the simple fact that it was based around an entity and was not solely reliant on “ghosts” or “demons”. It was more about a curse that lies within a name, a curse that controls your being and alters your state of mind. I would recommend THE BYE BYE MAN for fans of films such as INSIDIOUS, THE CONJURING and PARANORMAL ACTIVITY.