Good horror stories often are good origin stories.
That is, by the end of the film, the audience understands how the evil entity came about in the first place, and what caused it to return or haunt those involved.
“The Bye Bye Man” has no clue about a well-written origins story, although it does have some creepy elements and one of the most interesting casts you’ll ever see.
The movie begins in the late 1960s with a series of murders in a suburban setting. A disturbed, gun-toting man questions whether his neighbors have told someone another person’s name. The man goes on a killing spree when he doesn’t get the answers he seeks.
Who is the man? Whose name should not be shared, and why?
The movie then jumps forward in time to the current era. Naturally, the movie focuses on college students, a staple of this kind of flick. Elliot (Douglas Smith, “Ouija”), his best friend John (Lucien Laviscount, “Honeytrap”) and Elliot’s girlfriend Sasha (Cressida Bonas, who may be most familiar as Prince Harry’s former girlfriend.) The trio moves into a house at the beginning of their college school year.
Elliot's brother Virgil (Michael Trucco, “Hush”) visits with his family and tells Elliot to take his time with Sasha. Elliot assures Virgil that he knows she’s the one woman he wants in his life.
And then Sasha’s friend and classmate Kim (Jenna Kanell, “Misfortune”) enters the picture. She’s a “sensitive” who holds séances and reads minds. Sasha asks her to perform a cleansing ritual in the house, where things have become, well, creepy.
Inside a nightstand, over and over, are the words “Don’t think it. Don’t say it.” And when Elliot finds this, he also finds, inside a corner, the words “Bye Bye Man.”
The relationships between Elliot, John and Sasha begin to sour, partly because of the hallucinations they begin to experience. Elliot begins to think that John and Sasha may have feelings for each other.
In the meantime, Elliot visits a library and begins to investigate what the Bye Bye Man is all about and why his name should not be uttered.
The cast members all deliver adequate performances. A couple of secondary characters are phenomenal actors: Faye Dunaway is a widow who may know more about the Bye Bye Man, and Carrie-Anne Moss (“Frankenstein” from 2015) as a detective.
But we never learn much about the entity or what accompanies it. We have to understand what’s scaring us in order to embrace the horror, and the script never tells us. It’s a shell of a horror movie in search of a core.
Don’t think it. Don’t say it. Don’t waste your money on it. Bye-bye, man.
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