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. (more…)
It’s the state of the film industry in 2016 is that any independent director with even a hint of talent or vision gets snatched up by a giant studio to begin working on $100 million dollar blockbuster movies where they have almost no agency over how the movie will be made. They are just names to be used for marketing rather than actual filmmakers for these gargantuan projects. Joss Whedon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly) and James Gunn (Slither, Super) were gobbled up by Marvel to direct The first two Avenger movies and Guardians of the Galaxy respectively. Gareth Edwards (Monsters) got pulled on board to direct the terribly mediocre 2014 Godzilla flick (thank god Toho have taken the Godzilla IP back). Colin Trevorrow (Safety Not Guaranteed) helmed Jurassic World and is expected to direct Star Wars Episode IX. Marvel almost had Edgar Wright (Hot Fuzz, Shaun of the Dead, The World’s End) in to direct Ant-Man, but when Wright fought to have creative control over the film but when the Disney owned movie factory refused to budge on the subject, Wright told them to fuck off and left the project.
Since this odd trend of taking independent, relatively low budget creators and sticking them in charge of movies that cost three times more than the GDP of the polynesian island nation of Tuvalu and thinking everything will be okay seems to be picking up steam, I worry that some of my favorite directors will get swept up into this chaos and won’t be able to work on projects that they are really passionate about. One of those directors is Jeremy Saulnier, director of one of my favorite movies, Blue Ruin.
Saulnier’s most recent project is Green Room, a punk rock bottle-movie thriller starring the late Anton Yelchin and the indomitable Sir Patrick Stewart. The plot to Green Room is very simple. The Ain’t Rights, a young, down on their luck punk band get a gig at a neo-Nazi skinhead bar in the Pacific Northwest. They need the money badly, so they decide to play, get paid, and get the hell out of there as soon as possible (not before souring a few skinheads’ days by tearing through the hardcore classic Nazi Punks Fuck Off). On their way out after their set they witness a brutal murder on premises, and therein lies the main conflict of Green Room. The Ain’t Rights want to go home, and the neo-Nazis want them dead. It’s one of those narratives that seem a little too schlocky and over the top, but Saulnier treats it with a bleak, dour seriousness and intensity that keeps the audience from suspending their disbelief or losing immersion as the film chugs along.