I’ve never been much of a horror fan. As a result, I often warn people to take my opinions on anything to do with the horror genre with a grain of salt. Occasionally though, a horror movie closest my path that’s so bad, I wouldn’t hesitate to yell it from the rooftops. The latest title to warn that distinction? The Bye Bye Man. Neither original or particularly scary, The Bye Bye Man is bumbling in every aspect. You may end up laughing out of the sheer boredom of it all.
College student Elliot (Douglas Smith), his girlfriend Sasha (Cressida Bonas), and best friend John (Lucien Laviscount) move into a big, old house just off campus. The place needs to be fixed up, but the guys figure they can handle it. While we exploring the place, they find furniture in the basement, and decide to take it upstairs to use. One of the pieces, a nightstand, has writing in its drawer. “Don’t think it, don’t say it,” the text reads, and underneath Douglas notices something carved into the wood – “The Bye Bye Man.” Very soon after that, strange things start happening. Illness, hallucinations, and visions of a shadowy figure start plaguing the roommates. The violence increases, with Elliot subject to several nightmarish encounters. He researches a mass murder that occurred in town fifty years earlier, in an attempt to break the Bye Bye Man code. The only other way to escape his torment is suicide.
While The Bye Bye Man is obviously the villain of the film, it’s not real clear exactly what he is. Based on the chapter “The Bridge to Body Island” in Robert Damon Schneck’s book The President’s Vampire, screenwriter Jonathan Penner does little to establish a mythology. We know you can’t say his name, or he will appear. However, he doesn’t kill, he just messes with your mind enough so you’ll believe in a false set of circumstances. Bodies are usually left dead on the floor, as Bye Bye Man’s inside-out pit bull snacks on the fresh corpse. That’s what he does, but we still don’t know WHY. Why does he drop coins for people to find? Why does he fees the dog? In horror, a monster that makes no sense is never a good thing.
The acting is no better than the screenplay. Lead actor Douglas Smith wasn’t given much to work with, his Elliot character is written as such an idiot! He decides to get rid of the troublesome nightstand by…throwing it twenty feet into the backyard! No definite destruction of the piece. How about setting it on fire? Geez! Cressida Bonas’ performance is even more cringe inducing. She spends most of the film being sick. That’s how The Bye Bye Man gets to her–others end up dead, and the cute girlfriend gets a case of the sniffles, and a cough. It can be cured with a few visions of Lucien Laviscount walking around shirtless. Oh, and if you’re wondering about Lucien, he’s around strictly you make Elliot uneasy, and provide a bit of eye candy. Nothing more.
Faye Dunaway and Carrie-Anne Moss turn up for a couple of scenes, but their presence doesn’t add up to anything.
Director Stacy Title has delivered a tedious and boring film. The Bye Bye Man doesn’t even offer up enough fun to be considered a B-movie. While I can’t recommend this one, the most hardcover horror fans among us might want to grab this when it hits the $5 Blu-ray bin.
Presented in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio, this 1080p transfer looks good, considering the films modest $7 million budget. While sharpness is largely positive, a few inconsistencies do pop up. Shots in low light could be a bit soft. The heavily teal and orange palette looks appropriate for the mood of the film. Other hues occasionally appeared, but blue dominates and is well represented. Blacks are inky, but shadows are a bit inconsistent. Again, low light shots suffer a bit. There are no print flaws to speak of. Despite some minor issues, this is an above average transfer for a modestly budgeted film.
The DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack offers a fairly typical horror soundscape. It opens things up pretty well to provide pleasing atmospherics. While the mix won’t blow anyone away, it does the job. Music is full and rich, effects are clear and accurate. A few vehicles–cars and trucks, add some rumble to the proceedings. Dialogue is clean, clear, and concise throughout.
English and Spanish subtitles are included.
While there are no extras, it should be noted the Blu-ray includes both the film’s “PG-13” theatrical cut (1:36:18) as well as an unrated version (1:39:48). Three’s also a DVD of the film, Digital HD, and UltraViolet.