When horror movies are released in the month of January (where the scariest things are your new resolutions) it’s usually because the studio backing the film have little confidence in it. Because of that I went into The Bye Bye Man with the lowest of expectations and, coupled with its release date, its lack of marketing and awkward title probably hindered the film ever producing the sequel it promised. Anyway, The Bye Bye Man is about about three collage students who move into an old house. Shortly after moving in, Sasha (Cressida Bonas), begins to suspect something is off about the house. Elliot (Douglas Smith) is at first skeptical but when he reads aloud some strange words etched into a chest of drawers strange things begin to happen.
As I said horror movies released in January are very rarely any good, The Bye Bye Man with its mouthful title falls into that category, but its not totally without merit as there are things that are done well. The beast has the power to play with a victim’s mind and make them see things that aren’t there. The film does a decent job at getting tension from some of these scenes where the characters imagine certain things that are damaging to their mental health or see things that aren't there, however, the film does overplay its best card to the extent that is becomes repetitive.
As like many other modern horror films the film is handsomely and professionally made, but its become an expectation of modern horror films to be visually sleek that it’s no longer impressive that horror films appeal, on a superficial basis, visually. As good as the film looks, it’s let down by its by the numbers storytelling, a lot of the standard narrative cliches and tropes are used in the film so that the attempt to bring a new creature into horror legend in quashed before it begun.
Stacy Title does a good job framing her shots (particularly the long shot where Alice opens a cupboard door and the adjacent door also opens) but she fails to get good performances out of her stars, especially Cressida Bonas whose emotionally lacking and lifeless performance hampers proceedings considerably as its hard to get into a film with such a bad performance in an important role.
There’s times where the film is fun and hokey, making it passably fun, but it isn’t a good film by any stretch of the imagination.