Three friends discover what happens when you utter the Bye Bye Man’s name — your worst, most paranoid, violent fantasies seemingly become real. Rating: 2.5 stars out of 4.
First things first, let’s get it out of the way — “The Bye Bye Man” is an absolutely ludicrous title for a horror movie. However, it’s pretty obvious that the filmmakers are in on the joke, too. If we’re laughing, it’s with the movie, not at it.
The tale comes from the chapter titled “The Bridge to Body Island” in Robert Damon Schneck’s book “The President’s Vampire,” adapted for the screen by Jonathan Penner. So who is the Bye Bye Man and what does he want? That’s neither here nor there, but if you so much as utter his name, your worst, most paranoid, violent fantasies seemingly become real.
In a prologue set in 1969, we see what senseless violence the Bye Bye Man can inspire. Since then he’s been mostly dormant. Until now, when a trio of college kids rent a spooky old house, complete with ancient furniture, including a nightstand inscribed with the warning, “don’t say it, don’t think it,” and then, the ghoul’s name. Bad things happen when they discover it.
Movie Review ★★½
‘The Bye Bye Man,’ with Douglas Smith, Carrie-Anne Moss. Directed by Stacy Title, from a screenplay by Jonathan Penner, based on “The Bridge to Body Island” by Robert Damon Schneck. 96 minutes. Rated PG-13 for terror, horror violence, bloody images, sexual content, thematic elements, partial nudity, some language and teen drinking. Several theaters.
“The Bye Bye Man” is cheesy, but it feels knowingly cheesy. Even the somewhat terrible performances and breathless, repeated utterances of “Bye Bye Man!” seem to be a part of the film’s self-referential approach.
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Yet, there is genuine tension. The most suspense comes from the scenes where an authority figure, such as a detective played by Carrie-Ann Moss, or a loved one, beseeches Elliot (Douglas Smith), who released the Bye Bye Man, to tell them what’s going on. Elliot is appropriately distraught over the idea of unleashing mental hell and certain death onto innocent people, and the panicked back and forth reaches unbearably uncomfortable levels as it crescendos.