When three college students move into an old house off campus, they unwittingly unleash a supernatural entity known as The Bye Bye Man, who comes to prey upon them once they discover his name. The friends must try to save each other, all the while keeping The Bye Bye Man’s existence a secret to save others from the same deadly fate.
Billy: The director of The Bye Bye Man seems like a lovely person. I have nothing against this director or the enthusiasm that they seem to have for their work. Unfortunately, when you tell me in a behind-the-scenes interview that your biggest fear is “terrible things happening” you’ve told me you have NO FUCKING IDEA what horror is about. And it shows. It shows so much from how this movie tries to follow horror conventions, but simply doesn’t have a point of direction. You can’t scare me IN GENERAL without giving me something specific to be afraid of. There’s nothing to fear but fear itself? That’s… not what you base a horror movie on.
Amelia: When are people going to learn to make consistently good horror? It’s been done in the past and it will be done again in the future. The skills and ability to truly terrify (or at the very least entertain your audience) are out there right now as I type this. And yet bland, unoriginal, badly thought out, trope-filled tripe like The Bye Bye Man is what, more often than not, gets made to fill out the horror genre catalogue.
Well the horror genres catalogue is already overflowing with shit, okay? We can’t pack any more shit into this fucking catalogue or it’s going to explode like a plugged up sewage pipe! So stop with this! I’m serious now! Amelia is getting mad because her favourite genre is 99% absolute shit!
Billy: Unlike Amelia, I didn’t have a problem that the Bye Bye Man’s lore wasn’t tied to the house these characters find themselves in. I was fine with that, because I think they laid out a pretty interesting hook with the lore that the Bye Bye Man is only attached to the knowledge of his name. The real problem I had, one that took me completely out of the film, was the fact that the Bye Bye Man began manifesting himself to characters before anyone the film is following had even learned his name. Popping up after we see his name carved on the drawer? Sure. That works, but there is zero reason that you’ve described to me that means I should be hearing falling coins or seeing a fleshdog in the attic until you know exactly what to call him.
Besides that, there’s a factor of escalation that happens with these characters that I think just happens way too quickly. I honestly don’t like the seance very much because it means the main characters all know the Bye Bye Man’s name at the same time, and I think it would have been more interesting to see them unravel a little bit before everyone else. The only person he really ever hides it from is the detective and really… that’s one of the best scenes in the film. Then again, the very nature of his movement is through the casual mention of his name so maybe it has purpose, but I do think it just all could have been handled… better.
Amelia: I don’t even know where to begin with this movie. I really fucking don’t. There’s not one thing that scared me or sparked my imagination or even made me want to look up from my phone long enough for the screen to auto-close because thirty seconds of inactivity had passed! If I had to narrow down what pulled me out of The Bye Bye Man the most I’d go with how inconsistent it all is.
All movie universes need to have rules. These rules are how this universe works. It sets up expectations of how the story beats will pass because the rules are explained to us in whatever the director chooses to show us. The rules of the Bye Bye Man as a supernatural creature was that if you knew his name you’d conjure him to you. If you even so much as read his name he is now with you. If you mention his name to others, they are now a carrier of the curse. Great. Super. That’s as good a way to plot a horror movie as any other idea. But then these clearly established rules are broken within their own universe. Almost immediately are they broken within their own universe!
Why does spooky stuff start to happen around the leads of his movie before the curse is found? Which is to say, why the fuck is the Bye Bye Man slamming doors behind the terrible female lead when he’s nothing without someone knowing his name? He has no presence in this universe unless a living person knows his name. Before anyone knows his name, shit starts happening. This is maybe fifteen minutes into the movie and the rules of how and why this universe works is already broken by the universe’s creators.
The script supervisor really earned their paycheque with this one.
Billy: The redeeming quality of this movie comes in two flavours: Carrie Ann Moss and Doug Jones. Both were clearly only hired on for a day or two of filming, which is especially egregious in Jones’ case considering he’s the main villain. It’s so clear that these are legitimate actors elevating the material. Moss gives a character a look at one point that I can only describe as “Bea Arthur inspired” that makes a whole scene work. It’s subtle, but actually means so much, and you can tell in how both these actors handle themselves physically that they’re just better than the material at hand. So, there are about three scenes in this movie worth watching. In an hour and a half, there are three scenes worth watching.
Amelia: It is my firm belief as a horror lover that anything can be made scary if you have the skill to make it scary. That’s really what any art form comes down to: skill. The knowledge of how to do something in such a way that it elicits the desired reaction from the crowd ingesting this art you have presented them. The Ring made watching an unlabelled VHS scary. A Nightmare on Elm Street made streets named Elm scary. The Grudge made stairs scary. The Haunting from 1963 made fucking wallpaper scary! The Bye Bye Man is a story based on a legend of a blind hobo that rode the rails, cutting out people’s’ eyes and tongues to keep in his sack of gore, and who you could conjure just by saying his name because he didn’t take kindly to gossip. This legend is filled to the brim with elements in which to make a horror movie scary, but since the key players of this movie (director, writer, main characteractors) had no skill, the horror elements just shrivelled up and scattered in the wind, like a hobo fart after yet another can of beans.
Billy: One bye bye byes out of ten
It’s just a stupid name. Seriously, the whole point of this movie is that the name itself has power, and you go with THE BYE BYE MAN? This movie is a poo poo head.
Amelia: Half a bye bye bye out of ten
Truly the best advice I can give you in concerns to The Bye Bye Man is the movie’s own tagline: Don’t say it. Don’t think it.