Combustible Celluloid
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With: Douglas Smith, Lucien Laviscount, Cressida Bonas, Doug Jones, Michael Trucco, Jenna Kanell, Erica Tremblay, Marisa Echeverria, Cleo King, Faye Dunaway, Carrie-Anne Moss, Leigh Whannell
Written by: Jonathan Penner, based on a book by Robert Damon Schneck
Directed by: Stacy Title
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for terror, horror violence, bloody images, sexual content, thematic elements, partial nudity, some language and teen drinking
Running Time: 96
Date: 01/13/2017

The Bye Bye Man (2017)

1 Star (out of 4)

Hello Emptiness

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Many horror movies are bad, but it's rare to find one that's so-bad-it's-funny. Whether the problem lies in the puzzling screenplay, or in the production itself, it went dismally, hysterically wrong. The Bye Bye Man starts deceptively fine, but quickly evolves into a series of scenes that sound nothing like actual humans speaking or relating to one another. The conversations are weird and awkward, and often forced, pushing plot information upon us as if with a shoehorn.

In The Bye Bye Man, three college students, Elliot (Douglas Smith), his girlfriend Sasha (Cressida Bonas), and his best friend John (Lucien Laviscount) move into a creepy old house together. Strange things begin happening, and a friend of theirs, psychic Kim (Jenna Kanell) picks up bad vibes.

Elliot discovers a drawer in an old night table, covered in scrawl reading "don't think it, don't say it," and finds the name "The Bye Bye Man" underneath. From that moment on, things are not the same. The mysterious monster begins getting inside the heads of the trio, making them see and believe things, and reacting in terrible ways. Before long, people start dying, and Elliot searches for a way to stop the awful cycle.

In supporting roles, actors like Faye Dunaway and Carrie-Anne Moss look positively lost. Weirdly, the director is a former Oscar nominee (!) for a live action short film made in 1993. The story comes from a "non-fiction" book, a collection of "true," scary tales. If I were the real-life monster, I'd be miffed at my onscreen depiction.

The scary stuff — borrowed heavily from Candyman, The Ring, Final Destination, and others — is just as pathetic, despite Doug Jones portraying the title monster; the combination of poor visual effects, shopworn horror techniques, and uninspired makeup make this feel like a castoff from a dusty video shelf.

Bad movie fans will enjoy a laugh at the way the characters drive without looking at the road, or at a horribly stereotypical gay character called "Mr. Daizy," who, of course, runs a flower business. But most viewers won't even want to say "hello" to The Bye Bye Man.

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