After many delays and a change from a R to PG-13 rating, The Bye Bye Man finally opens nationwide on January 13th. So let’s just get this out of the way: we have once again fallen victim to another overstuffed and spoiled trailer. Simply put: if you’ve seen the trailer… you’ve pretty much seen the film.
The simple premise follows three college students, Elliot, Josh, and Sasha, who move into an off campus house. As promised by the owner, the house is already furnished. All seems normal until Elliot notices the writings inside the bedside table covered by a paper with “don’t think it, don’t say it” written all over it. When Elliot peels the paper off, he notices Bye Bye Man carved on the bottom. They all begin to see and hear things, and soon they give in to their fears; allowing it to consume them one by one. When they lose track of what’s real and what’s fragment of their mind, that’s when all hell breaks loose.
This isn’t the first horror film done by director Stacy Title, but there is an evident struggle to transform the given material into an acceptable film. The script is a defect of its own. Almost all of the writing is harrowing, and there is an absence of flow in the storytelling. While the directing and writing are below average, the CGI and visual effects easily triumph for the worst aspect of the film. What is perhaps most irksome is that those scenes could have easily been cut out without disturbing the story. For a film that went through so many re-cuts and changes, you’d think someone would have such a thing.
Not all is bad, though. The first act is quite decent. There are some predictable, yet effective jump scares, and some generic, but stress-inducing scenes. Also, the idea of the Bye Bye Man is portrayed rather well. However, the more we find out about the Bye Bye Man and his hound, the flatter and more ridiculous the story becomes. If they kept certain things in the dark like they did in The Babadook, then we might have actually had a film worth watching.
The acting doesn’t do much to save the film from its misery either. It’s hard to tell if it’s due to the sketchy writing or lack of any meaningful character development, but Cressida Bonas, who plays Sasha, fails to deliver a single convincing line. The rest of the cast does a fairly decent job, but I wouldn’t go as far as calling it commendable. The only standout is Carrie-Anne Moss, and sadly she has a short ten-minute role.
With substandard directing, writing, storytelling, and acting, the entire ensemble fails to deliver. The disappointment mostly comes from knowing that there is unfulfilled potential.
The Bye Bye Man is in theaters now.
The Bye Bye Man [Review]