The plot of “The Bye Bye Man” was based on the short story “The Bridge to Body Island” by Robert Damon Schneck. (Photo Courtesy of The Weinstein Company)
After moving into a house with his girlfriend Sasha (Cressida Bonas) and best friend John (Lucien Laviscount), college student Elliot (Douglas Smith) accidently exposes his friends to a demon known as the Bye Bye Man (Doug Jones). As the friends begin to hallucinate and slowly lose their minds due to its influence, Elliot sets out to save himself and his friends.
If the title was not enough of a clue, the whole movie is filled with a baffling amount of judgement lapses, and not just in regards to the villain’s name and movie title. Elliot is one of the dumbest characters to ever find himself in a horror movie, (and there’s a big list of dumb horror movie characters) and his friends are barely better. The acting is horrendous throughout the film and there are gargantuan missteps when it comes to the antagonist.
Remember, this is not hyperbole when said Elliot is the dumbest horror movie character ever. Even if the movie is somehow taken seriously despite the silly name, Elliot’s constant idiocy makes it impossible for any sympathy to be felt towards him or the situation. To give a frame of reference, his stupid actions include exposing an innocent bystander by mentioning the Bye Bye Man to them after knowing that the demon comes after people when they know his name, and disposing of an item that could help summon the Bye Bye Man by tossing it in the woods where anyone could stumble upon it instead of doing something smart like burning it.
While the other characters are not as idiotic as Elliot, they have their own annoying qualities. For example, John is one of the people at the beginning who actually believes in superstitious stuff, but once the group of friends start being affected by the Bye Bye Man, he seems more willing to talk about the demon despite being aware of what he does.
Going along with characters, all of the actors are simply atrocious in this movie. Smith and Laviscount are one note and unbelievable when it comes to acting. The worst performance in the movie comes from Bonas, who has the same problems as Smith and Laviscount, with the added problem of her focusing more on trying to look and seem as attractive as possible in every shot as opposed to acting believable.
Even though its name is something that would bring amusement instead of fear, the biggest problem with the movie and the villain is that there are no consistent rules or stakes. While the promotional rules of “Don’t think it, don’t say it” are consistent, the Bye Bye man is shown several times before being summoned hanging around the house, some people go crazy quicker than others, and it is unclear exactly what he does to people when he finally catches up with them, as he seemingly tries to use a character to infect others by making them say his name, but that person still has almost full control over their actions. When important details like these are left out, it ruins any possible horror element that there may have been.
Again, I must stress that this is not hyperbole. “The Bye Bye Man” has some of the worst ideas and executions of any movie, it is one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen, and I think it is probably safe to say that it will still be the worst movie I’ve seen all year by the time this upcoming December rolls around.
Final grade: F