By Mark Saldana
Rating: 1 (Out of 4 Stars)
The tagline to this new horror film is, “Don’t Think It. Don’t Say It.” I say, don’t bother whatsoever with this, not at all frightening and sometimes unintentionally hilarious, movie. This latest supernatural, bogey man flick fails miserably with its only entertainment merits coming from the laughably silly moments. In addition, if one also throws in just about every horror cliche and trope in the mix, then one will have The Bye Bye Man, a movie that opens in theaters on January 13, but needs to go bye-bye right away.
Elliot (Douglas Smith), his girlfriend Sasha (Cressida), and his best friend John (Lucien Laviscount) are three college students seeking off-campus housing. They discover an old, fixer-upper home that comes with antique furniture. It is an inexpensive opportunity they cannot pass up. Not long after settling in, the three friends begin hearing strange noises in the house. Always the skeptics of the three, Elliot and John dismiss them as the noises often heard in an old house. However, when Elliot reads aloud some strange and mysterious messages written in a nightstand drawer, it awakens an evil spirit that proceeds to threaten them and anyone to whom they mention the disturbances.
Adapted from Robert Damon Schneck’s story, “The Bridge to Body Island,” from his book, “The President’s Vampire,” screenwriter Jonathan Penner and director Stacy Title take what sounds like a creepy concept (based on my limited research on the source material) and totally squander it with this predictable, transparent, and ludicrous film. The director of the film does a terrible job building up tension, suspense and seems to have no sensibility regarding creating the perfect atmosphere for creepy chills and thrills. Not one of the lame attempts at jump scares even worked on me. Their setups are way-too-obvious and their executions are probably the weakest I have seen in a long time.
Not even the title character comes across as scary. He looks like several other bogeymen in movies and his omnious appearance is both misused and underused. The character even comes with what is supposed to be a frightening dog-like beast, but even this character has little to no impact in the film. Penner and Title offer no information on the background of the character. I suppose they did this to make him more mysterious, but they offer no other development whatsoever to make him more interesting or menacing.
As for the protagonists of the movie, the filmmakers fail to develop them in any interesting ways and, with the exception of Douglas Smith who portrays Elliot, the other lead actors offer mostly terrible performances. The better actors in the film happen to be the ones in supporting roles. The movie has solid work by Jenna Kanell who portrays the supernatural-savvy friend Kim and Michael Trucco who stars as Elliot’s older brother Virgil. The film also features fine work by Carrie-Anne Moss, Cleo King, and Faye Dunaway, but these talented actresses, unfortunately, have limited time in the film. I would have liked more time with these characters, particularly Moss who performs well as police Detective Shaw.
There is not a whole lot more I can say about this failure of a horror movie. I can only reiterate that is not worth anyone’s time or money. The hilarious, silly moments might be entertaining to watch, but I’m sure they will eventually end up on Youtube for everyone’s viewing pleasure. If one is even just a little curious enough to consider seeing this movie, I must strongly recommend that this person get this idea out the mind right away. Just repeat after me, “Don’t Think It. Don’t See It. Don’t Think It. Don’t See It. Don’t Think It. Don’t See it.”