[Early Review] The Bye Bye Man (2017)

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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!

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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.

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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.

 

2/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

[#2015oscardeathrace] How to Train Your Dragon 2 (2014)

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Director: Dean DeBlois

Cast: Jay Baruchel, Cate Blanchett, Gerard Butler, Craig Ferguson, America Ferrera, Jonah Hill, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, T.J. Miller, Kristen Wiig, Djimon Hounsou, Kit Harington

Screenplay: Dean DeBlois

102 mins. Rated PG for adventure action and mild rude humor.

  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Animated Feature Film of the Year

 

How to Train Your Dragon was a film that needed to have a sequel. Two, in fact. The first film had a very SAGA-like feeling to it. It had some more story that needed to be told. And it was, in last year’s How to Train Your Dragon 2.

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Hiccup (Jay Baruchel, TV’s Man Seeking Woman, Million Dollar Baby) and his dragon Toothless have come a long way in their relationship, and their home Berk has changed along with them. Hiccup’s father, Stoick (Gerard Butler, 300, Olympus Has Fallen), has learned to respect him as a son and a man. Hiccup’s girlfriend Astrid (America Ferrera, TV’s Ugly Betty, Cesar Chavez) has furthered her affection for him. Everything is going just great for Hiccup, until he discovers a dragon army led by the terrifying Drago (Djimon Hounsou, Gladiator, Seventh Son) and comes face-to-face with Valka (Cate Blanchett, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Knight of Cups), his missing mother in this sequel from director Dean DeBlois (Lilo & Stitch).

How to Train Your Dragon 2 excells in almost every way further than its predecessor. Visually, it is stunning. Emotionally, it resonates. The above developed relationships are tested further and further as the film progresses. Cate Blanchett, Djimon Hounsou, and Kit Harington (TV’s Game of Thrones, Pompeii) are great additions to the voice cast.

DeBlois’ sequel is a tightly-knit thrill-ride, with beautiful music, and gorgeous set-pieces. It also has the distinction of being the first animated film to contain an openly homosexual character (I won’t say who, but it shouldn’t really matter). For that alone, the film deserved praise.

The flaw, and there is a big one, comes at the end, when the film takes a fairly mediocre and cliché turn developing in an underwhelming finale. Hiccup and Toothless have a respect that is stretched to its lengths, yet the plotholes near the end make one question what it was all for.

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The ending aside, How to Train Your Dragon 2 is still a massively successful sequel and well worth the viewing. I only hope the open threads are continued throughout the future installments.

 

4/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

For my review of Dean DeBlois and Chris Sanders’ How to Train Your Dragon, click here.

31 Days of Horror: Day 9 – Fido (2006)

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Director: Andrew Currie

Cast: Carrie-Anne Moss, Billy Connolly, Dylan Baker, K’Sun Ray, Henry Czerny, Tim Blake Nelson

Screenplay: Robert Choniak, Andrew Currie, Dennis Heaton

93 mins. Rated R for zombie-related violence.

There have been many “boy and his dog” movies, but there has never been one like Fido, an overlooked zombie movie from about 8 years ago. It takes place in an alternate past, where some time around the 1950s, a zombie outbreak occurred, and was quelled. In the aftermath, a company called ZomCom was created, among its many creations were collars used to domesticate the zombie menace and essentially enslave them to do menial tasks and become like pets. Timmy Robinson (K’Sun Ray) and his family just got a new zombie of their own. His mother (Carrie-Anne Moss, The Matrix, Pompeii) is all for it. His father (Dylan Baker, Spider-Man 2, Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues) is not. As a status symbol of their community, the zombie, named Fido (Billy Connolly, Brave, The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies) grows an unlikely friendship with Timmy, and trouble ensues.

It is difficult to classify a zombie movie as cute, but this one is. The environment is as though we never stepped out of the 50s, but we also get the addition of zombies as domesticated animals. It is a unique environment, and one that we are unlikely to see again. The strong acting performances from Moss, Baker, and Connolly are what carry this movie. We also get a great supporting turn from Tim Blake Nelson (O Brother, Where Art Thou?, Kill the Messenger) as Mr. Theopolis, the next door neighbor whose relationship with his zombie may not be politically correct, even in this world.

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As it comes down to it, Fido is a fabulous movie and one that doesn’t leave you for some time, the goofy premise and strong acting chops make this a satire worth remembering.

4/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

For more 31 Days of Horror, click here.

February 2014 Preview

I want to put this out there right now. I have not seen these films. I haven’t. The ides of this preview is more of a way to tell you about the upcoming films this month, offer photos or trailer info, and help you make the best decision possible about what you want to see this month and what can probably wait until home video or Netflix.

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The Lego Movie:

Emmet, an ordinary everyday Lego figure, is mistaken for the Special (an all-powerful Master Builder) and receives help from a cadre of Lego creations to stop the Evil Lord Business from gluing the Lego world together. I had reservations about this film, and I still do. You are probably asking the same thing I was. “How do you make Legos into a movie?” I’m still not sure how, but I trust the work of Phil Lord and Chris Miller, the co-directors of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and 21 Jump Street. These guys understand comedy, and they understand story. I think we have limitless opportunities within the Lego-verse to pull stories from, and I have excitement to find out what has been created.

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The Monuments Men:

A group of men in World War II are tasked with retrieving stolen art from the Nazis and returning them to their owners. Okay, I like this cast. I don’t think this film can carry us for two hours. I like George Clooney, but he picks some weird projects as a director and his abilites have not proven to me that he is a guarantee.

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Vampire Academy:

Based on the 2007 novel, Rose is a human/vampire hybrid known as a Dhampir. That’s about it. Vampires are dead. No pun intended. They have just been done to death. There I go again. Probably won’t be good. I don’t care to see it at all.

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RoboCop:

This is a remake of the 80s cult classic about Alex Murphy, a great cop gunned down in his prime and rebuilt as RoboCop, a perfect law-enforcement machine. There have probably been some minor changes, but I just don’t think a remake was the right way to go. Can’t we just get a good sequel instead of telling the same story?

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About Last Night:

Another remake from the 80s, this one a romantic comedy. Just see the original, this one doesn’t look to entice anyone.

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Endless Love:

Holy crap, another remake from the 80s. Don’t spend you money on this one. Rent the original. Please.

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Winter’s Tale:

Based on the novel. Don’t know much, but I am enticed. I can’t even explain the plot really, so just check the trailer. Looks to be a love story that I think will bring the fellas in as well.

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Pompeii:

Paul W.S. Anderson is perhaps the king of the forgettable action film. The only thing people really remember him for is Resident Evil, and even that series has dried up from unoriginality. This one looks entertaining, but ask yourself, “Why release it in February? Wouldn’t it make for a better summer release?” Good question, class. My guess is, this film isn’t worthy of a summer release, so it has been dumped off early in the year to provide less similar competition and hopefully earn back money most likely lost elsewhere.

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3 Days to Kill:

This looks like a failed attempt to strike gold twice in the same way that Taken did five years ago. Aging Action Superstar! This film will be forgotten.

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In Secret:

I went ahead and watched the trailer for this film, as I know nothing about it. Another story of forbidden love, murder, and over-drama. Rent it.

Here’s the trailer for you:

Vengeance

Vengeance:

Vengeance is literally a movie about…wait for it…Vengeance. Didn’t see much story here. Watched the trailer. Still no story here. Skip it.

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Son of God:

Do not pay money for this film. Rent it at the very most, but understand this going in. This film is made up of scenes from the miniseries event The Bible with deleted scenes from the miniseries. Let’s not expect a whole lot. I liked The Bible, but I will not spend ten bucks for what is a ripoff.

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Welcome to Yesterday:

Welcome to Yesterday seems like a found-footage Butterfly Effect, and that is because it is. These movies about teenagers encountering something cray-cray appeal to very few, so be cautious if you really really want to see this.

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Non-Stop:

I want to hate this movie because it feels like it could be an attempt at getting Taken again as I mentioned earlier. I want to hate it, but I just can’t. Liam Neeson doesn’t do a crazy-ton of action movies, so I tend to lean on his good graces when he does one. I think this will be fun. There, I said it.

There you have it, February 2014 in Preview Form, let’s cover this again.

Best Bets: The Lego Movie, Winter’s Tale, Non-Stop.

Likely Misses: Vampire Academy, About Last Night, Endless Love, 3 Days to Kill, Pompeii, Veangeance, Son of God, Welcome to Yesterday.

Up in the Air: The Monuments Men, RoboCop.

I gave you the tools. Use them. And tell me what you think. Is there anything I missed?

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