Wednesday, January 18, 2017

The Bye Bye Man (2017)

The Bye Bye Man is a movie that I feel ashamed and embarrassed to even talk about the name of, which is actually a new low for this blog. It sounds like something a two-year-old would come up with on the spot when asked for a good supervillain name and then later go 'nah, that's actually kind of dumb, forget it' – so I guess that makes it good enough for the low standards of mainstream horror movies!

Director: Stacy Title
Starring: Douglas Smith, Lucien Laviscount

Co-written with Michelle and Tony.

This is basically an incomprehensible mess of a movie that's hard to describe properly if you don't already know about it. It's based on a short nonfiction ghost story, which is weird because I am positive the target demographic for this movie can't read.

It starts off with a guy in 1969 killing all his friends and family with a shotgun in broad daylight, while shouting “Don't think about it, don't say it.” You know, when they said anybody could buy a gun in America, I didn't think it meant literally ANYBODY... I highly doubt even the most pro-2A asshats in the south would look at this guy and go 'okay, give him a gun right now.'

Then there's a bunch of young college kids in the present day, a couple, Elliot and Sasha, and the guy's best friend John, moving into a really big old house. Things are pretty good for a while, which as you know, is never a deceptive thing in a horror movie; they always stay the same and everything's cool.

They have a party at the house where John is grinding up on Sasha at a dance, which will play an important role in the plot just as much as the actual supernatural killings – yes, seriously. Elliot is, I guess, afraid that Sasha and John are having sex behind his back, but it's not a well done plotline at all. That's what you get for expecting good nuanced drama from a movie called the fucking Bye Bye Man...

But Elliot isn't too bummed out, because he finds a weird old desk in their room with some cliché crazy-guy scrawled writing in it that says “Don't think it, don't say it” spiraled around in circles over and over, and he really admires the craftsmanship it took to write that way for whatever reason – seriously, it can't be easy! Then he peels off that layer to get to the other layer in the desk (what an elaborately put together desk drawer for no reason!) and sees THE BYE BYE MAN carved super deep in it...

Which is weird, as the main plot point is that if you don't think about or talk about him, he won't show up. Yet the word is very clearly scrawled on the desk by the same guy who wrote “don't think about it, don't talk about it.” Nice job at screwing up your own warning there, douchebag! I guess, as the crazy scrawled writing indicates, he's just KUH-RAZY and that excuses everything. Lol, mental illness, am I right?

Being mentally ill gives you the special superpower to write like this for no reason.

But as we'll see throughout the film, the warning to not think or say the name to avoid being possessed by him is constantly preceded with characters – almost all of them every time – doing exactly that. What a bunch of idiots. Don't you know that saying not to think about something will make people think EXACTLY of that thing? It isn't exactly a new psychological phenomenon. If I say 'hey, don't think about a dog wearing a sailor's suit smoking a joint,' that's what you'll fucking think about. See? You're thinking about that right now.

Eh, it's close enough anyway.

The plot stumbles along as they recruit a psychic girl and spent an inordinately long amount of time trying to make her prove she's actually psychic. It's utterly pointless and dumb. She eventually does this séance thing with them where she gets attacked somehow by the Bye Bye Man – so, I guess we're supposed to be scared? Not really... I've seen this scene in a bunch of other movies.

"I've got this great idea... how about we film a scene in this ghost story horror movie where they have a seance? Isn't that such an innovative idea?" "No, Janet, you're drunk." "Too late, already filmed it!"

If this all seems confusing and stupid, don't worry, we just have the entire rest of the fucking movie. The characters start to see all kinds of hallucinations, like weird images in glass or mirrors or in the dark – what novel ideas, never seen that in a horror movie. My favorite dumb thing is when Elliot keeps waking up in the middle of the night and seeing a cloaked figure in the dark, but then it turns out to just be the creepy child molester-looking cloak he always hangs up in that spot, and he's seeing things. Whoops! Guess hanging THAT there was a bad idea!

"I could just move that cloak, but eh, I like shitting my pants out of fear at 3 a.m."

Also, Sasha gets mysteriously sick for some reason... it's never really explained exactly why, just that it's got to do with the Bye Bye Man. This lasts most of the whole movie, and no one seems to give one single shit about taking her to a doctor. She doesn't even go there herself – are doctors a foreign concept? Is she some kind of flower child who doesn't believe in that? I dunno, and the movie doesn't. I do like how Elliot seems to care more about whether she's fucking his best friend than how sick she is. What a tepid douchenozzle!

The rest of the movie is a soggy oatmeal-like slog through the same old crap – a bunch of scenes of Elliot researching the Bye Bye Man, which is inexplicably in the school library in a file that turns out to be nothing but that name scrawled in that crazy-people font swirled around and around like it's being flushed down the toilet. Why is that in the school library? Just so fucking weird.

There's also a black lady librarian who acts like the most cliché stereotypical black woman ever, who relays the story to Elliot in the most casual way possible and makes it sound as dumb as it actually is – apparently, some journalist named Larry covered the story of a kid who killed his family and said the Bye Bye Man did it, and then it infected Larry too, and he was the guy who killed his family in the beginning of the movie!

Except, wait, if Larry wrote about the Bye Bye Man in a story, how did no one else get infected but him? Nobody at his news office heard the name ever, not even his editor? If that librarian lady knew about it, why was she OK until now? There are so many plotholes in this movie it'd be harder to just find a part that actually made sense.

The entire plot pretty much just revolves around these characters seeing these hallucinations and being scared of them. But at the same time, they also know what the Bye Bye Man is and that none of it is real – they talk many times about how they're probably going crazy. So how the hell do they keep falling for the hallucinations? Do they have the memory span of goldfish? It sure would've been more interesting if they could have helped each other not fall for the hallucinations and had, uh, character development, but I guess I'M crazy to expect that.

"Yup...pretty sure THIS is really happening..." - every fucking character in this movie

Like, the crazy psychic goth girl is in the car with Elliot and sees an illusion of a bloodied-up family on the side of the road that has been in a car crash. He can't see it, but she's convinced it's real despite all the conversations about how they're seeing things, and gets out of the car to go help, running in front of a moving train, which kills her instantly. What an idiot. I'm glad she's dead.

"I was going to run ACROSS the tracks to help that family, but I just thought the front of this train was so pretty that I had to stop and take a look! I really like the Final Destination movies, too, which was the real inspiration for this stunt."

The rest of the movie after this is mostly just Elliot looking extremely pale and shivering all the time, because why bother writing a good character when you can just do these things to make him seem nervous? It's so over the top it's like he got left in a freezer overnight and they let him out in the morning – somebody look into the human rights violations this director may have committed!

Anyway, he goes to visit the aging wife of Larry the journalist, who tells him an extremely pointless flashback about how she came home to find Larry going crazy and writing shit on the walls about the Bye Bye Man. It's really just completely pointless... there's nothing in this flashback we haven't already seen, and it feels weird to have it placed at this point in the film when we should be at the climax. Except that apparently people who snap and lose their minds only happen because of the Bye Bye Man! Mental illness is just hilarious, right?

I guess there is one positive to this scene, though – it does give us a hilarious moment in Elliot realizing not being scared of the monster is the only way to beat it, so he stands there in the dark shouting at nothing like a crazy person. You have to admire the lengths he's gone to for this method acting; a complete forsaking of dignity and class altogether.

The climax is a dragging mess full of a lot more dumb hallucination scares from characters who should know what they're seeing is fake by now. Both Sasha and John end up dead as a result of it. The Bye Bye Man himself shows up more often and he just looks like a homeless zombie wearing a bad coat. He looks like Freddy Krueger after a bad string of days on meth.

"Hey bro, can you spare a buck or two? Need to catch a bus back to nightmare-world."

Then Elliot's brother and niece show up, inexplicably, right as he kills himself, and the niece sees the writing of the name in that desk from earlier so she's infected now, I guess. Oh no! But as she doesn't even know how to read, it has no effect. So like the entire movie, this sequence was pointless.

So this was, uh, not good. But aside from the horrible characters, plot, special effects, writing, directing and most other things about it, maybe you can find something to like.

Seriously – it's horrible. The plot is muddled and makes no sense, and the attempt at making a new “arch horror villain” like Freddy Krueger or Jason just falls flat because of that. There's a lot of nonsense about magical gold coins and how seeing or hearing his name infects you, but none of it is explained well or tied together. The characters are non-entities and the writing is so bad that even the attempt at very meager development – the whole 'is my girlfriend cheating on me' thing – just comes off as a distraction rather than something humane or interesting.

Honestly, the whole thing just feels so incoherent and incomprehensible that it's gibberish. It's like listening to a drunk at a bar telling you a story at 3 am after they've had eight shots of tequila – you just get more confused the longer it goes.

On the plus side, I won't have to think about the Bye Bye Man anymore, as I've written the name so much that I'm sure to go so insane that I won't remember this movie. So there's that!

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