The Bye Bye Man (2016)

Redacting the Past:

The Bye Bye Man


The Bye Bye Man


I’m sensing a lot of…wait — keep holding hands — don’t break the circle… I’m sensing a lot of hate towards a little horror film called The Bye Bye Man.  A lot of hate.

Director Stacy Title, what have you done to upset everyone so much?  Have you a message for us?  Writer Jonathan Penner, have you been caught interfering with budgerigars?  Because I’m just not feeling a lot of love from the fan community at all for you.

Ah, what the heck, I’ll just come out and say it:  I liked this movie.

In the Lair of the Detestable Little Bastards

But first of all, a question:  do kids still hold séances, like they do in this movie?  In the creepiest old house they can find? I mean, I know my peers did back in the seventies.  But that was before we had seen a shedload of films that indicated it was a really frigging stupid idea.

Mind you, looking around the cinema last night I can well believe they do.  Well believe it.  As someone who dislikes people in general and young people in particular I normally avoid Friday night showings; but after last week’s rather heavy Scorsese outing I was just in the mood for a throwaway, switch-off-the-brain-and-settle back horror flick – and that’s what I got.  The Bye Bye Man does exactly what it says on the tin.  No more; no less.

But it was so long since I had been to a first-night horror film that I had forgotten what HATEABLE, ATTENTION-DEFICIT, PHONE-USING, TEXT-SENDING, CONSIDERATION-FREE, BRAYING LITTLE BASTARDS  a lot of today’s shower of miserable brain-dead shits really are.

And, having gotten that off my chest, I’ll sheepishly add that they actually settled down pretty quickly.  Whether that was because they had gotten into the movie or just dozed off I neither know nor care.  Just as long as they don’t breed.

This film has a pretty good prologue:  in an affluent-looking 1969 Wisconsin suburb a normal-looking man is approaching a house.  And when I say ‘normal’, I mean apart from the shotgun he’s carrying and the question he keeps repeating like a demented lunatic:  who else has been told a certain name?

After he goes on a rampage that makes us suspect he’s a postal worker (he is in fact a journalist) we fast forward to the present where three students are in the process of renting an ‘off-campus’ property.

By ‘property’ I mean a place that is larger inside than the TARDIS.  If I was scratching my head at how Amy Adams could afford that beach-front property in Arrival I was wearing my skull through at how these young ‘uns could afford this place.  Put it this way:  no matter how many spooks were cluttering up the joint I would have been out of my modest apartment and in there like a light.  With an exorcist in tow, obviously.

It’s not long before Eliot (Douglas Smith), his girlfriend Sasha (the wonderfully named Cressida Bonas) and mutual male friend John (the even more wonderfully named Lucien Laviscount) are hearing and seeing things going bump in the night – and a lot worse.

As their health and sanity deteriorates, Eliot makes an attempted excavation of the past and discovers — courtesy of the world’s most helpful librarian — that an attempt has been made to ‘redact’ certain events in the neighbourhood.

And just as an aside, I love that word ‘redact’.  I don’t think that I had come across it until recent attempts by Ireland’s own Big Brother Denis O’Brien (businessman; media mogul; bollox; and all-round creep) to decide what could and could not be reported on him.  Yet now I hear it everywhere.  Even where it doesn’t make much sense, like in this movie.

So Many Questions; So Little Sense

As I write this I’m laughing so much at just how barmy the script is that I feel like seeing it again immediately.

What is the origin and meaning of the Bye Bye Man? 

Well, apparently when you hear about one of those loopers who go off the deep end and decide to slaughter everyone around them, ummm… it’s not really their fault.  It’s just that they’ve said the magic words ‘Bye Bye Man’ and been possessed of this entity whose powers and limitations are never explored and who owns the word’s least convincing CGI human flesh-eating doggy.

And there are lumps of dozens of other modern-ish horror movies thrown in here, giving it a kind of twenty-years-ago retro-feel.  You’ll recognise bits of everything from Fatal Destination to Sinister.  In fact, I left the cinema wondering why they didn’t stick a ‘based on a true story’ label on it and hire Lorraine Conjuring Warren as a creative advisor.

And then I made the mistake of checking what Penner had based his screenplay on; and it turned out to be a chapter from the non-fiction book The President’s Vampire by Robert Damon Schneck.

Wait a minute!  Don’t break the circle…did you say ‘non-fiction’?  Yes, and the subtitle is Strange-but-true Tales of the United States of America.

Ah.  Based on a true story, then.  I just know that Lorraine Warren is in here somewhere.  I can sense her spirit.

Make sense? Fuhgeddaboudit.

Why do those about to be visited by the BBM see a train approaching?  No idea.

Why do they hear a coin spinning?  Not a clue.

Why does the legendary Faye Dunaway turn up in a cameo, looking like the world’s worst advert for plastic surgery?  Haven’t the faintest.

Ditto the cameo from Carrie-Ann Moss.  Has she spent all the money she made from the Matrix trilogy?  I don’t know that either.

Why do I like this film so much and hope that they make a sequel?

Don’t know and don’t know.  Maybe the abuse that I’ve inflicted on the old brain cells over the decades has finally caught up with me.

I only know that The Bye Bye Man is the best horror film I’ve seen in the whole of 2017.  Heh.








Author: Charley Brady

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  1. Ditto Charley, I watched this last night and really enjoyed it, decided to check out what others thought of it and couldn’t believe the amount of downright bile for the movie and the actors involved, yes it doesn’t exactly explain a lot but as recent horror movies go this one was a damn sight better than most I’d seen.

    As far as the director is concerned to hell with the begrudgers because its box office take quadrupled its budget, so obviously we are not alone in enjoying this movie?, and the ending left it nicely open for a Bye Bye Man 2, bring it on!!!.

    Actually Charley the first movie of influence that sprang to mind for me was “Candyman”, say Candyman 5 times and he will be summoned?.

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