THE BYE BYE MAN: A Pointless Urban Legend Tale
The Bye Bye Man is an attempt at an urban legend slasher film that falls short due to its lack of scares and uninteresting story-line.
Back in the ’90s, the craze for urban legend horror movies was at the top of the slasher films. The likes of I Know What You Did Last Summer, Candyman, and even the more direct Urban Legend made audiences shiver as their campfire tales were being brought to life on the big screen.
Eventually, like all horror movies, the subgenre became played out. The material that once scared teens was no longer a terrifying subject. And now, in 2017, horror fans get another urban legend tale. The Bye Bye Man may hope to recapture all that ’90s glory, but it only further proves that the subgenre is dead, with slim chances of getting resurrected.
A Rough Start
Starting off in the 1960s with images of a man breaking into a house and killing the people inside, shooting each one in the head with a gun, the film mirrors The Shining nostalgia. At the same time, the movie quickly shows its audience one of its problems. A lot of the actors in The Bye Bye Man are overacting, almost in an attempt to cover up the film’s horrible dialogue. From the starting scene, it comes off rather comedic instead of being creepy, and this sets the stage for what’s to come.
Fast forward to the present day, and we are greeted with three college kids moving into their new off-campus apartment. And like any new owners belonging in a horror movie, they soon find a scratched up name in a night table drawer – “THE BYE BYE MAN.” As you might expect, there would be no movie if the characters in it would only keep their mouths shut, because by saying the name out loud, it unleashes the evil creature. Needless to say, each character says the name out loud, and this is how the movie’s events are made possible.
The Bye Bye Man does create a somewhat interesting complex with its two guys and one girl dynamic. Douglas Smith stars as the boyfriend to Cressida Bonas‘s Sasha and Lucien Lavishcount plays the other guy in the apartment. As the movie starts to pitch these characters against each other, though, it’s soon put on the side to explore the creature. The film plays up aspects of trains and sets up what you might expect to be a backstory for the Bye Bye Man later on. However, nothing comes of it. There’s no motive or origin given to this creature for why he is manipulating and killing these college students.
This question and others are never answered as the movie near its end. It takes the easy way out without bothering to tie any other loose ends. It never truly has a clear script, and the movie gets lost. By the end, the horror movie just becomes this hollow mess, while having done nothing at all.
Bye Bye To Urban Legends
As a fan of spooky campfire tales and urban legends, it’s a shame to think that these types of horror movies aren’t getting the attention they deserve. Director Stacy Titles should have given this story more thought and heart. Thinking back to the days of Freddy Krueger, in comparison, The Bye Bye Man just doesn’t hold up. It neither has the depth nor the scare factor to compete with the great horror villains.
Although, I’m not saying that it’s impossible to create such a horror masterpiece today. If you think back two years ago, you might think of the small Australian horror film, The Babadook. Its success lies on the mere fact that it was able to create interesting characters as well as an interesting monster, neither of which The Bye Bye Man was able to achieve.
Of course, it’s not possible for every movie to be great, and that is the sad part. However, as audiences are getting smarter, movies like The Bye Bye Man simply don’t make for much enjoyment. A film needs to start with an interesting idea, which this film never has. It’s as careless as it is unscary, all while trying to make it into a horror franchise.
There are much better alternatives to The Bye Bye Man such as The Babadook, Candyman, and my personal guilty pleasure, I Know What You Did Last Summer. You may want to watch those instead.
What did you think about The Bye Bye Man? Do you think the horror genre is in a bad place right now? Tell us in the comments below!
The Bye Bye Man was released on January 13th, 2017 and may still be in theaters in the US and UK. For a full list of international release dates check here.
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