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1/8/18

THE BYE BYE MAN - REVIEW


One horror movie that stood out in 2017, mostly thanks to its silly title, is The Bye Bye Man. Based on a chapter from Robert Damon Schneck's book "The President's Vampire", the film received negative reviews despite its relative box-office success.

The Bye Bye Man follows Elliot (Douglas Smith), his girlfriend Sasha (Cressida Bonas) and best friend John (Lucien Laviscount) as they move into a house near their college. Soon enough, a lot of strange things start happening with Elliot having hallucinations and all three of them becoming increasingly paranoid of each other. The opening sequence, in which a man snaps and starts killing friends and family in an American suburb in the 60's, is genuinely chilling but, sadly, it doesn't set the tone for the rest of the film. The build-up to the titular monster is slow but rather effective as every creak inside the house and something as trivial as a coat hanging on the wall appears spooky. Then Elliot starts to research The Bye Bye Man (Doug Jones in tons of make-up, as ever) and the film promptly tumbles downhill as the plot becomes sillier and sillier, as do the dialogs, and we're offered tons of clich├ęs and unlikely scenarios that lead to clumsy, barely eyebrow-raising scares.

There was some potential there based on the first 15-20 minutes of the film and the fact that The Babadook did well some years prior with a similar monster and an equally silly title. About halfway through the movie, you'll realise that something went wrong somewhere in the script and, either the writer lost interest or they just couldn't figure out how to tell that story in an interesting way and in a way that makes sense. It's a shame because the early quieter moments helped establish a creepy mood pretty well and the three main characters' paranoia was hinted at rather than hammered home without thought. The film boasts some decent cinematography and a solid supporting cast (Carrie-Anne Moss, Faye Dunaway) but all of that is wasted on a story that, quite simply, wasn't worth telling. By focusing on The Bye Bye Man and turning the ridiculousness all the way to 11, the film quickly loses whatever atmosphere it was initially trying to build, leaving you to shake your head in disapproval.

Call it a missed opportunity or just a poor horror film, The Bye Bye Man is basically both: it's a film with a handful of good ideas but trucks full of bad ones and, by the end, you'll likely forget there was anything here worthwhile to begin with.

Don't bother.

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