Starring: Douglas Smith, Lucien Laviscount, Cressida Bonas, Doug Jones, Michael Trucco, Jenna Kanell, Erica Tremblay, Cleo King, Carrie-Anne Moss, Faye Dunaway, Leigh Whannell, Keelin Woodell, Jonathan Penner.
Director: Stacy Title
Rating: PG-13 (for terror, horror violence, bloody images, sexual content, thematic elements, partial nudity, some language and teen drinking.)
Running Time: 96 Minutes
Release Date: January 13, 2017
Intrepid Pictures, Los Angeles Media Fund and STX Entertainment.
Written by: Jonathan Penner; adapted from the short story “The Bridge To Body Island” by Robert Damon Schneck.
Asinine, to the point of inducing uncontrollable fits of the wrong kinds of laughter, The Bye Bye Man is a horror movie about a Grim Reaper-like boogeyman who is summoned by anyone saying or thinking his name. Based on true events, screenwriter and former three-time “Survivor” contestant, Jonathan Penner, has crafted a story about…
WAIT JUST A SECOND. Hold on here. Based on true events, huh?
So if this Bye Bye Man thing is even remotely true, I just killed all of you because I have now exposed you to the name. I’ll give you a moment to get your affairs in order.
Okay. Now that we are all faced with imminent doom, allow me to continue.
The Bye Bye Man is a lazy, ridiculously amateurish film about an urban legend of sorts that exists somewhere in the purgatory between “Bloody Mary” and “Candyman.” Directed by Penner’s wife, Stacy Title, who has Snoop Dogg’s Hood of Horror on her filmography, we have the story of a supernatural force killing whiny and pretentious teenagers. First, however, we get a back story.
A news reporter in 1969 Wisconsin (Saw creator Leigh Whannell) loses his mind and rifles down eight people before turning the gun on himself. He has been driven crazy by this monster from the other side who, because of me, is now apparently coming to kill all of us. Sadly, this news reporter was unable to abide by the two simple rules he told himself to follow – Don’t Think It. Don’t Say It.
Now cut to 2016. Three college students, sweethearts Elliott and Sasha (Douglas Smith, Cressida Bonas) and third-wheel John (Lucien Laviscount), have rented an old house from a florist named Mr. Daizy (Penner again because why not?). A house party brings Elliott’s brother, sister-in-law, and niece Alice (Erica Tremblay) to the new digs, along with a bunch of generic friends, including Sasha’s psychic buddy Kim (Jenna Kanell).
Unbeknownst to everyone, Alice finds a silver coin (the movie insists they are gold, but we can see them, so…) and tells Uncle Elliott about it. After everyone leaves, Kim conducts a seance, panics, still proves her abilities, sleeps with John, and calls it a night.
The coin keeps falling out of a nightstand, which offers its own set of surprises and suddenly we are off. People start seeing things they can’t understand. Sasha gets sick. Weird things start happening and no one has any clue what’s real, imaginary, or who to trust.
This is not a movie built around a found-footage conceit, so to even pretend this is “Based on True Events” is simply hogwash. Penner found the tale in a journal of “true stories of unexplained phenomena” by a guy named Robert Damon Schneck. Schneck, in interviews, has told people that he avoids the potential of being killed by the monster by thinking of him as BBM and only speaks of him in that way. Except, if true, the guy sold his story to a screenwriter who calls the very movie the thing that the author can’t say. Undoubtedly he’s heard the name, meaning he has thought about it, and has somehow escaped it.
What are we doing here?
Penner’s script is stupid, but the acting here is something to behold. Bonas is an embarrassment on screen, unable to convey any emotion or deliver any lines in any believable way. While Laviscount is decent enough, Douglas Smith’s turn as Elliott starts out fine but descends into camp, his overreacting and bug-eyed reactions offering countless chuckles, stifled guffaws, and flat out laugh-inducing sequences that are relentlessly entertaining for all the wrong reasons.
Faye Dunaway is here. Faye. Dunaway. And Carrie-Anne Moss arrives for a throwaway role as a police officer who offers perhaps the worst interrogation I’ve seen on screen in years.
There’s a train symbolizing something never explained. There are scenes were people should be bleeding but can’t because the film is rated PG-13 and blood cannot be shown. The editing is atrocious, the dialogue absurd and absent of any scares. Like any at all.
By the end, so much of this movie devolves into these brats saying that they won’t say “it”, that they can’t say “it”, and they even hold their mouths closed with their hands to avoid saying “it,” WHICH DOES NOT MATTER BECAUSE THEY ARE STILL THINKING ABOUT THE VERY THING THEY APPARENTLY CAN’T SAY!
But you know what…Fine. Whatever. Bad movies come out every year. Bad horror movies come out every year. This “true story” (come…on…man…) had people rollicking in laughter. Rollicking I tell you.
And quite honestly, I could use a good cry to start 2017. These tears though were not from terror or unrelenting intensity. My dampened cheeks came about as a result of the giggles and uncontrollable fits of laughter which dominate nearly all of the final half of the bizarre, trashy, and utterly ludicrous Bye Bye Man.
SHOULD I SEE IT?
- Teen horror movie fans are not going to be told not to see this. So go ahead, line up over there, they are cleaning the theater now.
- This is a movie that is 100% in the realm of “So Bad, It’s Good.” Campy, absurd, stupid, and unintentionally hilarious, you might just have a decent amount of fun with this thing.
- I hear Doug Jones is a really nice guy when he’s not playing scary monsters in horror movies. And yes, that really is Faye Dunaway. What in the world?
- Likely resting comfortably on that list of the Worst Movies of 2017.
- Even in a fantastical horror story, none of this makes any sense whatsoever. The concept is flawed to begin with and the kids are tone deaf and idiotic.
- Since this is supposedly a true story, all of you have now been affected and so The Bye Bye Man is going to come for you. This means you will never see the movie anyway, so you know, just thank me later.