Director: Stacy Title
Cast: Douglas Smith, Lucien Laviscount, Cressida Bonas, Doug Jones, Carrie-Anne Moss, Faye Dunaway
Screenplay: Jonathan Penner
96 mins. Rated PG-13 for terror, horror violence, bloody images, sexual content, thematic elements, partial nudity, some language and teen drinking.
Welcome to 2017! I’ve got high hopes for this year!
And they were trashed immediately after this film. Okay, just kidding, but wow, so bad…
Elliot (Douglas Smith, TV’s Big Love, Miss Sloane) is very happy in his new rental house with his girlfriend Sasha (Cressida Bonas) and childhood friend John (Lucien Laviscount, TV’s Scream Queens, Honeytrap). That is, until strange happenings begin in the home, all linked around a mysterious nightstand with markings on it, reading, “Don’t Say It Don’t Think It” repeatedly and a name, “The Bye Bye Man.” Naturally, upon learning the name of the creature, Elliot, Sasha, and John begin seeing things that aren’t there and Elliot finds himself followed by the mysterious entity (Doug Jones, Pan’s Labyrinth, Ouija: Origin of Evil) and his pet dog, haunted by the past and what he must do to stop it.
I was mildly irked through the first half of the film, which isn’t nearly that bad. There is a midpoint, however, when everything this film has spent time building completely unravels. I found myself practically getting up and yelling at the screen and all the stupid things these characters are doing. Why! Why would you do that? Why would you realize that everything you are seeing is a lie and still keep believing it? Why would that one girl do something so horrible and selfish for her own survival and then risk trying to save a family in a rollover right after explaining the Bye Bye Man’s abilities? Why, I say, Why!
As for the characters, they are more like caricatures. Elliot walks into clichés head-on, and Sasha and John are so poorly performed that it’s tough to believe anything. Sasha is seen as pretty dumb, and John is seen as kind of dickish. Why would I care about any of them? For supporting players, Carrie-Anne Moss (The Matrix, Pompeii) and Faye Dunaway (Chinatown, The Seduction of Dr. Fugazzi) are wholly misused in the film, given nothing to grasp onto for any semblance of a story.
The saving grace of the film is Doug Jones’ terrific performance under all that makeup as the titular monster, but he can’t bring up a sinking ship. The Bye Bye Man is pretty dreadful, and it hurt me, especially after such a great year for horror. I should try and remind myself that this film was shot over a year ago and sat on the shelves until now, so I shouldn’t have hoped for much.
-Kyle A. Goethe