Think this is going to be a positive review?
Before the review begins, I should note that we watched the unrated version of the film, which is such a cheap copout. Honestly, a pg-13 horror film hasn’t been scary since, well probably ever. They reduce the film’s integrity to shove it into theaters and hope for a better return, and then release the unrated edition hoping that true horror fans will like it. Does it bother anyone else that this means there is enough to cut for two separate films without effecting narrative integrity? If as a storyteller, 5-15% of your film can just fuck off for a lighter rating that is a sign there is something seriously wrong with the quality of the film.
I get it, movie companies need to make money. I don’t think anyone denies the importance of turning a profit in filmmaking, but in trying to cater to two different audiences these movies end up disappointing both.
And so we have The Bye Bye Man, which is a film, I guess. There have been more disposable narratives than this, but I found myself having a hard time thinking of any while watching this train wreck. I have often chastised horror films for their bad acting, but holy shit this one might take the cake. The acting is so bad that the characters use hand gestures to convey emotions. Sad? Put hands over face, obviously. The acting is so bad the director should have just gotten a bunch of kindergarteners to show the emotion.
To be fair, the absurdly stupid plot didn’t exactly give the actors a whole lot to grab onto. If you see, hear, or say “bye-bye man” the least scary villain will make you go crazy. The actual bye-bye man looks like CGI first draft of the villains in Blade II wearing a stereotypical homeless persons’ clothing with long finger nails. What does he do? Beats me, because the film just has him point and sneer—terrifying. He also drags along a zombie dog that may have actually been lifted directly from old PSONE horror games.
So, say the name, go insane. The film strives to mention deeper meaning by referencing conceptions of reality and language, but promptly forgets to explore any of these ideas. Instead, we have one of the most cliché reading, willfully unscary, boring, and just terrible films I have seen in a while. I expect shit from horror movies anymore, the rarity that one actual interests me has become a treat. This film actually broke through the bottom of barrel and dug into the dirt.
Aside from everything else that sucks about this film, which is about everything you can think of, it is also cheap in a dirty way. Using a child to try to conjure up scares is simply gross in this context. Hey, our characters suck, so let’s have an eight year run around a college party, because that is appropriate? The cheap teasing of child danger is just that, cheap. I wouldn’t be surprised if these moments were added in later (as most moments with the child are framed a lot tighter than most of the other scenes) because test audiences didn’t give a shit about any of the main characters.
This movie doesn’t just represent what is going wrong in horror, but what is going wrong in a lot of movies lately. We are amidst an endless barrage of poorly written, lazy, and artistically stunted storytelling. No one in this movie should ever go near a set again. If you listen hard enough, you can almost hear the director shrug and say “good enough” after every empty and stupid segment. 0/10