Writer and adorable corgi dog owner Stephen King, when talking of horror gave three simple steps he strove to achieve when writing horror said “I recognize terror as the finest emotion and so I will try to terrorize the reader. But if I find that I cannot terrify, I will try to horrify, and if I find that I cannot horrify, I’ll go for the gross-out. I’m not proud.” Director Stacy Title failed miserably at doing any of the above in her latest film The Bye Bye Man.
At its core, the film has an interesting concept. How an idea can become powerful and real if it spreads, is spoken of and is shared. After the mind fuck of Donald Drumpf ascending to the White House simply taking residency in people’s head space for years. Once the idea is hammered home enough, it doesn’t go away. If Stephen King wrote this story, it would have made a good film.
However, Stephen King didn’t write this story or direct this film and the people involved with making The Bye Bye Man don’t have the brainpower to capitalise on that idea. Instead, Title and her husband, screenplay writer – use that term with a pinch of salt – Jonathan Penner have merely slapped together a failed, experimental mutant. One constructed of cheap imitations of far superior films, and viral internet horror stories.
The foundation of the film itself is shakier than a school built by a suspect cowboy building company you see on a consumer rights programme. The basis of the story is some sort of wraith brought to life by his name, which when seen and said is brought into the world – in this case by a bunch of idiotic young adults. Isn’t that always the way?!
However, the mythology behind it is mess. No hint is given as to the antagonist’s origins or any motivation. Indeed, the Bye Bye Man himself isn’t particularly terrifying. He isn’t even mildly alarming! This is not aided by his canine sidekick which as opposed to using a real dog with clever effects in editing, the effects team have instead used a CGI dog which would have been deemed shabby looking on a Playstation One.
Still, that is not close to being the worst of it. The characters are so poorly drawn they resemble the scribbles of a three-year-old child who has consumed too much sugar. Coupled with this is dialogue that wouldn’t even make the grade in an episode of Hollyoaks. Characters do or say things which make no sense and are unintentionally hilarious.
Speaking of unintentionally hilarious, the acting was staggeringly bad. Wooden enough to build a log cabin in the woods furnished by flat pack wooden furniture sets from Ikea.
There can be little excuse for our young leads involved (Douglas Smith, Lucian Laviscount and Cressida Bonas) have little excuse for some shoddy performances but what were Carrie-Anne Moss, Faye Dunaway (wearing the ‘where’s my cheque?’ expression) and Cleo King playing at?! Moss and King can barely keep themselves from bursting into fits of laughter clearly knowing the whole film is terrible. You were in The Matrix Carrie-Anne, how did it come to this?
On first impressions, I thought it was bad but not awful, after the dismaying Rob Zombie film, 31, last year but the more I think about it, the worse The Bye Bye Man gets. It might scare somebody, but only someone who shouldn’t watch horror films or needs to get out more. A total waste of ninety minutes.