The Bye Bye Man is a 2017 supernatural horror film that sadly doesn’t only suffer in name. If you’ve followed the blog for a while you know, I tend to try to avoid negative Impressions pieces, but I watched the movie and well…
For background, the movie starts with an unknown man hunting people down demanding to know “who they told” while repeating “don’t think it, don’t say it.” After his apparent murder spree, we are moved to the present with three college kids moving in together. Sasha and Elliot who are dating, and John who is Elliot’s best friend. Sasha is creeped out by the house that they get to rent so cheaply, with both boys dismissing her fears. Sasha’s discomfort with the home eventually leads the three of them to discover the existence of the horribly named The Bye Bye Man.
The biggest problem this movie suffers from is pacing. The idea is a good one, some unknown force that makes you hallucinate and makes you think of it so it can kill you is a clever one. The problem is this movie has no build up, and it makes for terrible execution. The movie goes from introducing the idea, about 10 minutes of break, then bam the main characters are going crazy. Then suddenly it slows back down and is more of a mystery, but it is never balancing the quick pace of the main characters going mad, with trying to solve what is happening. It kills any and all possibility of suspense and doubt over what they are experiencing and undercuts the entire movie. I was also unafraid of the various jump scares thrown in because I just felt like the tension was not there.
Instead of being a slow-paced break down of the main characters and question of what’s real and what’s not, with a compelling mystery driving the narrative, it just ends up being one thing after another which leads to a bit of tedium. At some point, the movie attempts to throw in doubts and development, but due to the lack of pacing and build up, they don’t land.
Sprinkle on top of this some weak acting and storytelling, and I was left entirely disappointed. Both of these points frustrated me because the acting was better at moments so I knew it could be. The story actually had a few fantastic and well developed moments, so once again as with the acting, I knew it could be more. In fact, the problem with this movie was a lot of potential there. Despite its weaknesses The Bye Bye Man has some great moments of sound design, visuals, a few dashes of good story, and sometimes it even got close to intense moments. This movie could have genuinely been something great, and so I am left wondering what happened.
I usually am the first person to say “cut it down” with movies, but I think this one needed at least half an hour more in run time (if not longer) to really develop what was there. Why do certain scary visuals/sounds connect to The Bye Bye Man? Could certain moments have been drawn out more to build tension? Certainly, work on the pacing, so there is a build up with the central three being hunted. There is a lot that could have been built on to create a stunning horror film.
Also, and this might seem small and something that was overstated, but a better name than The Bye Bye Man.
In the end, I didn’t hate this movie shockingly. I was underwhelmed and disappointed, but it had some cool moments. I would never recommend it exactly, but if you are genre nut looking for something new to watch I’ve without a doubt seen worse. Ultimately a lot of my negative thoughts on this movie are due to the fact that the groundwork for something impressive is clearly there. I hate being negative overall, and I certainly hate it when I think there is talent behind a movie. So with that maybe give it a shot, just go in knowing not to expect much. For me, I would really like to see the people behind this movie flex the creative muscles they so clearly have in the future and make something that lives up to the potential I see.
For now, The Bye Bye Man is not the worst horror movie I’ve seen, but it’s pretty dull, which in the horror genre might actually be a bigger crime than just being bad.