CGI Hellhounds Will Eat Your Face (or maybe they won’t): “The Bye Bye Man”January 18, 2017
Well, it’s January—that time of the year when Hollywood wakes from the booze-and-coke-fueled bender it went on to celebrate the holiday releases, squints bleary-eyed at all of dopes looking to buy movie tickets and mutters, “Oh…are you still here? Um…why don’t you see Rogue One again? Oh, you’ve already seen it six times…okay, how about Passengers? Too rapey? Got it. Um…ah, fuck it, here’s The Bye Bye Man. Watch this schlock and wake me when it’s February.” And that’s how we end up with The Bye Bye Man.
The Bye Bye Man (aka: The Future Worst Movie of 2017) concerns three students at a fictional Wisconsin college who move into an off-campus house haunted by the titular supernatural beastie. Elliot and Sasha (Douglas Smith and Cressida Bonas) are one of those disgustingly happy undergraduate couples who hooked up freshman year and can barely wait until senior year to get married, so they decide the rent a place and play house in the meantime. By some glitch of logic, they also bring in their mutual friend John (Lucien Laviscount—yes, that’s his real name), because when you’re lining up your own off-campus bone-shack it’s not at all awkward to have a random extra guy there.
This collegiate fun gets rudely interrupted when Elliot discovers the name of the titular boogeyman, which wills him into existence. Pretty soon he’s pestering the three of them with creepy hallucinations and gently playing upon Elliot’s suspicion that John and Sasha are hooking up (he kind of phones that one in). So, pretty soon everyone is bugnuts crazy and running around trying to learn the secret of the Bye Bye Man.
And that secret is…really convoluted. The Bye Bye Man is given life by simple knowledge of his existence (hence the movie’s catchphrase “don’t think it, don’t say it.” Like that? You’re in luck. This movie beats you over the head with it like you’re a baby seal). But then he makes you hallucinate and maybe kill the people nearest you. And he has a couple of gold coins, which hit the floor ominously any time he’s nigh. Also, he has a spectral dog that eats the faces of the dead (sometimes…when the demon-pooch is in the mood, I guess).
Maybe I’m overly minimalist, but this seems like one or two supernatural traits too many. It’s like screenwriter Jonathan Penner was brainstorming this movie and couldn’t bear to say no to whatever undercooked idea the shallows of his unconscious came up with. I, for one, would have skipped the dog.
If any of this was presented in a competent or borderline-competent way, the movie would merely be bad and not (as it happens to be) unwatchable. As it is however, the whole affair has a tossed-off quality to it, from it’s subpar CGI to a director (Stacy Title) excavated from the mid-‘90s to a cast that only intermittently seems to remember that they’re, you know, supposed to be acting (a drinking game based on how often the characters appear onscreen staring blankly into middle distance would result in an alcoholic blackout by the third act).
The fact that the movie appears to have been edited from and R rating by a drunk monkey with a dull kitchen knife doesn’t help much. The sex scene is damn near surreal in its awfulness.
So, yeah, that’s The Bye Bye Man. Really, if you’re seeing a movie with a title like that, you kind of deserve what you get.