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The Bye Bye Man review: Everything you love about horror movies done horribly

Ranjan Crasta | Updated on: 11 February 2017, 5:46 IST

The Bye Bye Man has all the Hollywood horror tropes we know and love -- college students, the black sidekick, a large creepy house, a mysterious train, a Boogeyman figure and a curse. Despite this, though, the movie is an abject failure when it comes to bringing the scares.

'Don't think it, don't say it' is the line at the heart of Stacy Title's horror offering The Bye Bye Man, and once the movie is done you're left wishing that whoever came up with idea had followed that advice so this movie never saw the light of day. Since that didn't happen, let's get on with the review.

The Bye Bye Man legend is boring as it has been done, and done better, by movies like Candy Man.

The plot is standard horror fare. In this case it revolves around the titular phenomenon of the Bye Bye Man, a Boogeyman-esqe demon that brings death to anyone who knows its name. That's where the 'Don't think it, don't say it' part comes in. Those who know about the Bye Bye Man desperately chant the line in an attempt to avoid saying the creature's name, because the mere mention of it unleashes the Bye Bye Man's power.

While the creature itself doesn't go around physically tearing people to shreds, it gets inside their heads making them murderous. After moving to a new house the three chance upon the name of the Bye Bye Man and the movie then unfolds with a tedious inevitability, robbing it of any fear factor it might have otherwise had.

The protagonists Elliot (Douglas Smith), Sasha (Cressida Bonas) and John (Lucien Laviscount) are all wooden in their acting, though they can probably be forgiven for having to work with a dull plot and lacklustre dialogue. They're also predominantly TV actors, and not particularly accomplished ones at that, so to hope for them to carry the movie is a bit much.

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Even the building of the Bye Bye Man's legend does nothing for the watcher, since the trope has been worn thin by so many different movies that have also done it better (Candyman, anyone?).

A good horror movie, though, is able to carry even mediocre plot and acting through suspense, smart cinematography and a good soundtrack, but The Bye Bye Man does none of that.

Good horror is able to carry a poor plot and acting through cinematography and audio, Bye Bye Man does not.

The shots are the same ones you've seen in every other horror flick. The soundtrack sounds like stock "suspense music" from any old video editing software. Like the plot itself, innovation is something that has never crossed the director's mind, with the movie adhering strictly to the tried and tested route, even if in this case it seems more like tired and testing.

There's no gore, so the scares are left completely at the mercy of the director's ability to surprise. But since there's nothing we haven't seen before, we're never really surprised and, as a result, we're never scared.

Barring a tiny and wholly unnecessary cameo from Carrie-Anne Moss (Trinity from The Matrix series), there's absolutely nothing to cheer in the movie and you're actually left rooting for the monster to just get on with it so that the movie ends.

Should you go see it? Only if you're trying to get over a fear of horror movies, because The Bye Bye Man waters the genre down to its basic tropes and delivers it so insipidly that even the most easily scared people can finally watch a 'horror' flick without flinching. If you're actually a fan of horror though, just say bye bye to the movie altogether.


First published: 20 January 2017, 2:48 IST
Ranjan Crasta @jah_crastafari

The Ranjan (Beardus Horribilis) is a largely land-dwelling herbivorous mammal. Originally from a far more tropical habitat, the Ranjan can now be found wandering the streets of Delhi complaining about the weather, looking for watering holes and foraging for affordable snacks. Mostly human, mostly happy and mostly harmless, the Ranjan is prone to mood swings when deprived of his morning coffee. Having recently migrated to the Catch offices, he now inhabits a shadowy corner and spends his time distracting people and producing video content to distract them further.