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The Bye Bye Man

You may giggle at that title – we all have.  It’s hard to take seriously, especially since so many stoney faces in the trailer say it without a speck of irony.  As one of those jokesters who mocked the title and has now seen the movie, I advise readers to not write this film off just yet.  The Bye Bye Man has a main attraction that deserves your attention.

The Bye Bye Man is a routine haunted horror starring three good-looking, wise-cracking university students (Douglas Smith, Cressida Bonas, Lucien Laviscount) who move into an ominous house just before freaky things start happening, including things lurking in the shadows.  Everything goes to hell, however, when one of the roommates notices some scribblings in his bedside table that read, “Don’t think it.  Don’t say it”.  He reveals more scratches – those four infamous words: the Bye Bye Man.  I’ll give you two chances to guess if he does, in fact, says those words out loud.

While some may try predicting the usual horror beats, audiences will be surprised by the angle director Stacy Title and screenwriter Jonathan Penner have decided to expose with this film.  The Bye Bye Man plans to expand on the concept of an idea.  In horror stories, creatures and evil forces will always exist as figments of something scarier.  It’s why we’re spooked by what’s told around a campfire and other tales of the unknown.  But, what if you focused too intently on those ideas?  Would they, in fact, manifest into a real threat and, therefore, be out of your control?  You may try to put them out of sight and out of mind, but could they linger in the background?  Waiting for you to slip and tilting the odds in their favour.  This is what The Bye Bye Man suggests – it’s unnerving and creepy.

The Bye Bye Man has ropey special effects, some over-the-top performances, and unripened dialogue (including a final line from a child: “You know I can’t read in the dark?  What am I?  A flashlight?”), but the film also has merit.  Its attempts to physicalize the theoretical are impressive, and disarming enough to have us worried about we’ll think or say next.

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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie

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