When three college students move into an old house off campus, they unwittingly unleash a supernatural entity known as The Bye Bye Man, who comes to prey upon them once they discover his name. The friends must try to save each other, all the while keeping The Bye Bye Man's existence a secret to save others from the same deadly fate. Written by
Don't say it; don't think it a piece of advice uttered and repeated ad nauseum by the year's newest batch of disposable teens in this year's newest disposable horror; The Bye Bye Man. Question: If I repeat the words "don't think it, don't say it" as if it were a mantra, aren't I still thinking about it? I, mean anyone who's been through a terrible breakup will probably tell you when you say "don't think about it," your mind automatically wonders back to one who broke your heart. Also, are the people cursed by this year's newest disposable apparition aware that "bye-bye, man," is a fairly common turn of phrase? So does that mean everyone who says that at any point in their life is affected by the curse or only after they've discovered it exists? The Bye Bye Man is the name of this year's newest disposable horror film apparition. He appears when you say his name, his influence spreads with every utterance and he can be challenged once you've become wise to his game. So he's basically a hybrid of Freddy Krueger, the Candyman and the "It" in It Follows (2014) only with a look and feel stolen from a Lab Rats music video. Truth be told, the setup does have possibilities. A minor character refers to him as a reaper so perhaps something salient could have been said about the specter of death and how it can warp our behavior. Or perhaps The Bye Bye Man could be a parable of forgotten history. Another minor character makes the point that once you bury the story, "It's like it never existed." The movie could have been an exploration of mass hysteria, a project exploring groupthink, exploring mental illness, exploring the never-ending march of time It could have explored a lot of things is what I'm saying.
But no The Bye Bye Man is essentially about a group of university students who stumble onto a haunted nightstand and barely grasp its implications. We get our macho jock (Laviscount), our pretty and popular female lead (Bonas), our creepy outcast (Kanell) and our pale-faced protagonist (Smith) who fights his fate while wearing band t-shirts that are far too old for him. Veteran actresses Carrie-Anne Moss and Faye Dunaway also make appearances in contrived, unnecessary scenes that are there to point out the filmmakers didn't properly utilize their shooting schedule. Thus we're pretty much stuck with our fresh-faced meat-sacks for the duration of this film.
And while we're stuck with them, our group of heroes seems to be hopelessly stuck in a plot that is actively working against them. They start the obligatory parade of clichés by having a housewarming séance. They then immediately fall into false frights, unexplained phenomena, and a second act investigation requiring one or more of them to rummage through library records. All the while, any chance to flesh out our characters is eschewed in favor of everyone yelling "who did you tell!" The only time we're offered a respite from the painfully expected and familiar is when we get heavily edited flashback scenes of the Bye Bye Man tormenting a reporter (Whannell) who got a little too nosy for his own good. These scenes approach the quality of mediocre dinner theater.
At one point early in the film, Elliot yells from the other room "Let's watch something stupid," to his girlfriend who is distracted by haunting noise. We then cut to them sleeping. That in a nutshell is The Bye Bye Man. It's a lazy, boring and predictable movie that at times feels edited beyond comprehension. Don't think it, don't say it - Don't see it.
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