Ding ding ding! We have our first contender for stinker of the year: Stacey Title’s The Bye Bye Man. Rather a descent into hilarity than one of terror, this college-set horror starring two young-adult love-birds and their hunky third wheel being tormented by a crappyily named supernatural entity, is scarily bad.
“Don’t say it, don’t think it”; the motto of The Bye Bye Man and an apt phrase for those thinking of telling their pals to go see the film. So this hooded demon (think a poor man’s Voldermort) and his creepy dead dog-thing torment innocent humans who say his name. How does it do this? By sending ’em bat-shit crazy through crazy visions and hallucinations. There’s even a historical backstory: this guy’s been sending people nuts for decades, including one journo who butchered his family after researching the entity.
So the premise doesn’t sound that terrible, right? There’s potential, or at least the chance for it not to suck mega balls. But it does, it really, truly, does. I can forgive the horror clichés (the bumps, the creaks) ‘cos the genre nowadays is covered in ’em, but at least make them effective, eh? The trailer wasn’t convincing, but at least it seemed to promise a few of the standard ‘jump scares’, yet these never arrive. What did, however, was a whole lot of cringe.
Stephen King hated on Jack Nicholson’s performance in The Shining for his apparent OTT descent into madness. TBBM’s lead, Douglas Smith (playing Elliot), without the skill or believability needed, ramps it up 100-fold on Nicholson, as he goes from loved up college kid to messed up wreck on the turn of a hat. His GF and housemate Sasha (Cressida Bonas) goes the other way: looking further and further dead-between-the-eyes as the film progresses. Either an acting choice or a response to her soul slowly being destroyed one script page at a time, Bonas’ lifeless display was another nail in the coffin for this crap pile.
Yet what they did with their antagonist was the film’s biggest sin. As we entered TBBM’s final third, which had ditched trying to scare anyone for straight up ‘lols’ (I actually laughed out loud at one point) the full reveal of the thing itself was the biggest pee-take of them all: it looked rubbish, it acted rubbish… everything about it and its stupid demon dog was rubbish!
And calm… Unfortunately the ending heavily suggested (with the subtilty of a car crash) that a sequel is planned, which makes me die a little inside. To its credit, The Bye Bye Man might be a terrible horror, but it’s definitely the funniest film of 2017 so far. Credit where credit’s due, eh?