Editor’s Note: I started writing this out of pure unadulterated passion when I got home after watching this. After sleeping it off, I continued writing it in a much more calm, cool, and collected fashion. I decided to keep the bits I wrote the night of.
I’m writing this while sipping on a pilsner and riding out a sugar high from too many Mars bar bites. My friends and I made an evening out of this. We assembled with snacks and whiskey and craft beer and watched one of the worst received movies this year. We do this often, bad movie nights, but this feels special. It’s a bittersweet feeling, making a ritual out of consuming somebody else’s art to purposefully make fun of it.
Wait, did I just call The Bye Bye Man art? Fuck me. I’d like to formally apologize to the entirety of human arts and culture.
This movie is a piece of trash. On fire. In a dumpster. That’s also on fire. A fucking dumpster trash fire fire. The Bye Bye Man, while being the worst named horror movie ever (maybe even worse than Hellraiser: Deader), feels like it shouldn’t be joked about. It’s too easy. The jokes practically write themselves as the story flashes on screen in front of consistently disbelieving eyes and open jaws.
Elliot, Sasha, and John are moving into a new house, and find a dresser drawer with the words “don’t think it, don’t say it” scribbled on it and then “The Bye Bye Man” scratched into it. Fun fact: this drawer belonged to some dude in the ’60s who committed a mass shooting and suicide because he was spooked by some paranormal entity named the Bye Bye Man. Now, the Bye Bye Man is terrorizing these three teenagers because they read his name. Who’s the Bye Bye Man, you might be asking? Well, that’s a good question, and don’t hold your breath, because you won’t find out.
When your film doesn’t even explain how or why your villain came into being, and why he was named as something as stupid as The Bye Bye Man, I can guarantee you aren’t making a good movie. Even the opening of the film, while shot in one long take, feels immensely stupid. Nothing is framed properly. It feels like they decided to do a long take for the sake for doing a long take without understanding the technicalities and subtleties of how to pull off a shot like that. All throughout, CGI is used for trivial things that can be easily created using practical effects. I’m not even getting off on a practical effect vs CGI rant here, but something as simple as shooting a hole in a door is handled exclusively by a computer’s processor. And that, that my friends, leads us to the mantra of this movie:
Why even fucking bother?
This is filmic nihilism. Why do anything if nothing matters? Should we do another take because our clearly European actor couldn’t deliver the line “good morning” without being stilted and awkward while attempting an American accent? Should we hire this clearly European actor to play an American when there are already hundreds, if not thousands of hungry American actors looking for work that already speak English with American accents? Why fucking bother. I can’t even imagine how much cheaper this young woman’s rates were to any North American actor, because I’m failing to see why she beat out the competition. Also, why does the character have to even be North American in the first place? If you hired the best actress (they didn’t) and she just happens to be European, then make the character European. It’s not relevant to the story where she comes from, but it detracts greatly when you get ear whiplash from trying to decipher her dialogue.
Why bother trying when you’re making a movie? Just cram in some sexy twenty-somethings and a couple jump scares, and voila, you’re pretty much printing yourself money. And print money The Bye Bye Man did. While it is a pretty low budget horror flick sitting a bit short of ten million, it pulled in almost four times its budget in box office sales. Four times.
Think about that.
Despite the nonstop scathing reviews, The Bye Bye Man was a financial success, and that makes me sad. Not because there’s a bad movie floating around the universal ether forever now, but because studios will only see the figures attached to the dollar signs at the bottom of their reports and realize how little effort needs to be put in to making a movie in order to turn a profit. Nothing, from scripting, to acting, to the production value of The Bye Bye Man felt like any time was spent fleshing it out or ensuring that it was cohesive in any way. Every shot felt like the first test shot they did just to test framing and blocking, with nobody quite comfortably placed in the frame of throughout the scene. Halfheartedly written and delivered dialogue abounds, and don’t even get me started on the abysmal CGI used throughout the movie. Even a second draft of the title would have been nice. Naming your movie The Bye Bye Man makes it sound like it’s a low-tier episode of Freaky Stories. Not even Goosebumps or Are You Afraid of the Dark, but Freaky Stories. I can already hear it now:
Did you ever hear the story about the Bye Bye Man? No? Well let me tell you. It happened to a friend of a friend of mine…
The only, only redeeming thing about the Bye Bye Man is how unintentionally funny it is. This is a good-bad movie. Grab some drinks, grab some friends (or some more drinks if you don’t have any friends because you suggested watching The Bye Bye Man at a movie night), hit play and let the laughter roll. I cannot stress this enough. There was barely any downtime during our screening of the film, we were constantly ripping on it or making fun of it. No portion of it was safe from criticism, and the overall poor quality of the film only compounded when we started nit-picking all the stupid editing choices and choppy dialogue.
Movie Night Pairing: Uwe Boll’s House of the Dead, to complete a night of film-fueled self-loathing.
Drink Pairing: 3 forties of Max Ice, to complete a night of film-fueled self-loathing.
I’ve worked myself up spewing out words about this garbage. I need a fucking drink, so I’ll see y’all later.
Bye bye, man.