The Bye Bye Man is a supernatural horror movie directed by Stacy Title, starring Douglas Smith, Lucien Laviscount and Cressida Bonas. Originally rated R, the studios decided to make some changes to release it in January with a PG-13 rating. Thankfully, I watched the Unrated version, which only adds some blood and a small sex scene to the Theatrical Cut.
The story follows Elliot, John and Sasha, three college students who move into an old house where they begin to get haunted by The Bye Bye Man, supernatural entity who preys upon them once they discover his name. You must avoid thinking and saying his name, especially because everyone who knows of the name Bye Bye Man is going to be haunted by hallucinations.
I am not going to sugarcoat this: the movie is pure garbage. Barely anything works here, both from technical aspects and storywise. The whole lore of the Bye Bye Man is not explained in the slightest, and his Modus Operandi is incredibly complicated: to avoid being killed by the Bye Bye Man and his hellish hound, you must kill all those who know of his name and then kill yourself… Yeah, that is how you beat him.
The only praise I can give this movie is the opening: it starts with a flashback that is all done with a single tracking shot, and I actually appreciated the effort put into it, even though it feels as if they were trying to copy the opening of It Follows. The rest of the film is shot very standard, with no great shots and obvious framing for jump scares. The editing was pretty bad as well, with most dialogue scenes just ending midway through them.
The acting is of the lowest calibre: Douglas Smith (who has been in movies such as Stage Fright, Miss Sloane and Ouija) gives an over-the-top performance that is never as scenery-chewing as Nic Cage’s in Vampire’s Kiss, Lucien Laviscount is just the hot friend, and Cressida Bonas takes the cake for worst performance in a wide-release movie of the year due to her lack of effort and emotions. The supporting cast is also terrible, with hilariously bad extras and the surprise appearance of Carrie-Anne Moss (who gives the only solid performance) and Faye Dunaway (who is not even trying).
In a movie called The Bye Bye Man, you expect to see a lot of him, especially since he is played by Doug Jones, one of the greatest monster actors in the US (who has been in films such as Hellboy, Pan’s Labyrinth and Crimson Peak). However, he is barely present in the movie, as he takes a little under 4 minutes of screen-time. They try to set up a mythology behind him, but they never explain any of it. His powers are also barely explained, feeling as if they just throw Candyman and Freddy Krueger into a blender. This lack of threat and presence makes him a boring villain, and the prosthetics applied are incredibly cheap and generic, with makeup that would fit a zombie rather than a supernatural creature.
The dialogue is on the nose and very cringeworthy, and many scenes are truly pointless. The CGI is very unpolished and unnecessary, especially when it comes to the blood effects, which look faker than a cartoon. The sound design is poor as well, especially with the effects used during jump scares. And yes, the movie relies almost entirely on jump scares, and the few scenes that try to build some tension never pay off.
Overall, The Bye Bye Man is one of the worst horror movies I have ever seen, for it lacks a real villain, decent scares and competent acting. Mostly boring, occasionally unintentionally funny, but always bad. I think everyone involved with this will be glad if you don’t think about it.
Visual Effects: 3.5
Violence & Gore: 8.5
Sex & Nudity: 7
Drugs & Profanity: 6
Intensity & Horror: 4