You toss and turn in the middle of the night, unable to sleep. “I’m terrified,” you think to yourself, “what if somebody walks through the door, and points at me?” You try sitting still, gazing at your wallpaper hoping that it will put you in a hypnotic trance. It doesn’t work. “Any second now, the wallpaper could move a little,” you theorize. Finally, you give up on trying to sleep and turn on the TV. You see The Bye Bye Man on one of the movie channels thinking that it must be a lost episode of Are You Afraid of The Dark. You turn it on, and all of a sudden, all of your worst fears come to life. The pointing, the wallpaper, and an old man in a hoodie accompanied by a hell hound who looks like he was shat out of another dog. There will be no rest for you tonight as you kiss your sanity bye bye.
The Bye Bye Man tells the spine-tingling tale of three college-age intellectual heavyweights who have recently moved into a new home. Elliot (Douglas Smith) is quickly regretting moving in with both his girlfriend Sasha (Cressida Bonas) and his much more attractive friend John (Lucien Laviscount). When he goes up to mope in his room during a party, he finds a piece of paper that reads “don’t think it, don’t say it,” over and over again inside of a nightstand. Unfortunately, the paper both thinks and says “the bye bye man (Doug Jones)” a demonic entity who infects your mind to the point of insanity at the sheer mention of his name. Elliot starts to lose himself as The Bye Bye Man starts lurking his way into his everyday life, eventually forcing his friends into the fray as well.
One has to wonder, if two male friends use the expression “bye bye man” upon leaving each other’s company, does the man of the hour take that as an invitation? How important is “the” in this equation?
Imagine that Freddy Kruger, Jason Voorhees, Ghostface and Pennywise all were high school boys sitting at a lunch table. They’re an inseparable clique, practically a family. They howl at each other’s stories about which teacher they slaughtered that day, happy as clams. The Bye Bye Man is the kid who sits across the table by himself, listening to Limp Bizkit while sipping on a non-alcoholic beer. He stares at this group every day, desperate to be a part of it. Sometimes he even gets up the courage to walk over, but whenever the slasher icons try to talk to him, all he can do is point and run away. This has to be most laughable attempt at a new horror villain in quite some time. This film really wants to sell us on the notion that the sheer idea of this man is what drives the characters insane. However, when we do see him, we never understand why he even bothers them. Sure, he points at you and sits nearby at the library, but that’s not exactly nightmare material.
We certainly don’t care about any of these characters, who are brought to life by three of the worst actors allowed to be in a major film in years. Every line delivery sounds like it is said by people who learned how to talk an hour before shooting. We have a couple veteran actors in Carrie-Anne Moss and Faye Dunaway who show up late in the game, but they’re clearly so embarrassed that it’s hard to get much out of them. As these folks fumble through an abysmal screenplay by Jonathan Penner, one has to wonder if this was based on an elementary school Halloween Pageant.
Stacy Title’s flat direction certainly doesn’t help matters. She has no eye for what makes a scary sequence, often leading us along in the dark for a few minutes only to show us the lamest payoff imaginable. This is clearly a film cut down from an R-Rating, as there is not a drop of blood when people are hurt or killed. I guess the studio just wanted to provide a safe space for a few teenagers to lose their virginity.
It doesn’t seem humanly possible to make a horror movie this devoid of anything remotely creepy, particularly one that was released in theaters. It takes a character who’s about as intimidating as Barney the Dinosaur, and doesn’t even let him do anything. The only thing this movie will make you scared of is staying awake to watch the rest of it. Unless there are several substances involved, you should let this thing continue to play in empty theaters until it goes – – well, you know.