A group of friends find themselves being tormented by a figure known as the Bye Bye Man after speaking his name from a text written in the house they now reside. Soon they find themselves unable to tell what’s real anymore as the Bye Bye Man moves to closer to take over his victims minds completely.
The concept of The Bye Bye Man is actually very interesting and pretty creepy. We have a villain who really doesn’t do anything threatening himself, but he makes his victims essentially do his bidding for him. Despite that, the presence and overall look of the Bye Bye Man is pretty terrifying and provides a lot of creepy imagery. Unlike films such as Sinister where the similar figure in that has the same motivations, but the villain in that I always looked laughable and was always shown way too much. Here they show the titular character just enough and save his most frightening moments for the last few minutes. Sadly, these last few minutes were the only remotely thrilling and good moment. The final act itself isn’t bad either, but when the Bye Bye Man finally appears instead of just brief images, it’s a nice reward for everything that’s happened before. And what happens before is a whole bunch of nothing. There’s no real sense of terror or frightening aspects. It’s just our characters hallucinating random stuff the whole time that isn’t remotely scary or disturbing. Granted it is pretty creepy seeing how far a person will go once the Bye Bye Man finally has you, but all of this isn’t ever really shown. This is obviously in thanks to the fact that they cut this from an R rating to PG13. I don’t think the R rating would necessarily have made it better story-wise, but it at least would have given us some good horrific images to go off of. As interesting as the concept is, it doesn’t exactly do as much with it as it can, besides the aforementioned boring hallucinations. In some ways though I am hoping for a sequel so that more background on the Bye Bye Man can be given, cause there’s no background given here whatsoever. Along with the weak execution, we are given severely boring and uninteresting characters. The only character that I did find interesting was the psychic girl named Kim. And that’s only because she was psychic I guess. Unfortunately, she’s the only one who has anything interesting happen to her, and it happens off-screen. And even more unfortunate, she gets the least amount of screen time of the teens, probably like 10 minutes worth. Everyone else was boring or so damn annoying, so quite frankly I wanted them to die. Hell, it’s the supporting characters that have the most likability. How is that possible?
Like the characters, the acting basically sucks. Normally I don’t mind Douglas Smith as an actor, but here I don’t even know what he was doing, and he was very unlikable for the main lead, and his performance seemed like he was either overacting or having way too much fun trying to be crazy. Lucien Laviscount is the token black friend who basically does what the token black friend is supposed to do, so Laviscount doesn’t exactly screw that up, but it’s still pretty lackluster. But the worst of them all is Cressida Bonas as Smith’s girlfriend in the movie, Sasha. This girl can’t act to save her life and she acts as if she’s trying super hard to remember her lines and stammering over them, and she has zero emotional depth. Jenna Kanell who plays Kim, does fine with her role, some hit or miss moments, but when the time comes for her to give it her all she does it.
As far as supporting characters go, Carrie-Anne Moss provides one of the only good performances as the cop who appears halfway through the movie to investigate what’s going on. Kuddos to her for actually trying and not treating this like a paycheck film (which I’m sure it was), her character kept me invested enough to say I would love to have her come back for a sequel (should one be made). Also worth noting are Michael Trucco and Erica Tremblay (yes, Jacob Tremblay’s little sister) as Smith’s character’s brother and niece. Trucco, for a supporting character does bring a lot of likability and more emotion to the role than he really needed to as the caring older brother concerned for his younger brother. Tremblay doesn’t really get to do much other than be cute, but she does fine with that and doesn’t make it extremely annoying to have her around. And then of course we have Doug Jones as the Bye Bye Man, no dialogue from Jones, but his physical performance as the horrific figure is perfectly creepy and chilling.
So The Bye Bye Man is basically a great idea with some creepy imagery from the titular character, and a satisfying enough last 15/20 minutes, but falls victim to basically a very poor script and execution, with bad characters (save for the supporting characters), poor acting (again save for the supporting characters). In some ways I do hope for a sequel so it can improved upon over this one and give more info about the Bye Bye Man, but I won’t be upset if they don’t make one either.