I saw the trailer for this film in the cinema back around the time of its original release, and whilst I wasn’t enamoured with the name of the film, the clips looked like a safe bet for a modern horror.
Disappointingly, I was wrong.
The films plot unashamedly follows a similar plot line to that of a well-known ‘Nightmare’ inducing franchise in that the supernatural entity, known as the ‘Bye Bye Man’, is able to stalk you through your thoughts and dreams, but only if you know of him in the first instance. As such our unlucky characters, a group of 3 students, are introduced to the gentleman after finding the scribblings of a pervious victim in an old desk; the films tagline – don’t it, don’t say it – engraved in the furniture in a dizzying spiral (somewhat ironic that someone should go to all the trouble of carving the warning only to then write the name of the Bye Bye Man in the centre of the spiral!)
Once they know of him, they then research into other past mentions in the hope of finding a way of avoiding the inevitable. The only way of breaking the curse, it seems, is to kill anyone who knows of the Bye Bye Man and then yourself; not a perfect antidote by any measure!
The film is well acted, and in parts well shot, indeed the script isn’t too bad either, despite some fairly drawn out exposition scenes which to be honest could have been trimmed. Whilst the characters are generic, they do the job, the film generates some intrigue surrounding the antagonist in its earlier scenes and tension begins to mount once the group stumble on the literature which releases the threat.
These earlier scenes are fully on par with other modern horror scare fashion, with off camera movements, plenty of lingering shots in the darkness and an interesting symbolism of finding coins hidden in the nooks and crannies of a large spooky house.
Sadly this doesn’t last.
The film begins to unravel once the antagonist is shown. The Bye Bye man is just your standard spectral entity, with a rather daft looking CGI dog in tow, nothing unique and certainly nothing to get the shivers going. The jump scares begin to fall flat and it seems the harder the film tries to be ‘frightening’ the more convoluted the plot and threat becomes, further diminishing its effectiveness. This right here is the feeling I was left with, it’s all the zero substance of modern jump scare horror, without it actually being scary.
There is an overarching concept, with I feel the film makers though was going to be the big ‘hook’ of the film in that *Spoilers follow* the ‘Bye Bye Man’ is responsible for influencing the evil acts of all human beings, and that psychological disorders are a symptom of the Bye Bye Man’s presence.
Overall, however, rather than being profound the whole film is a bit of a let-down really. I am very surprised it even made it to cinemas considering the quality of some of its peers. A daft title, an equally daft antagonist, ultimately leaves you wishing you hadn’t heard of the ‘Bye Bye Man’. I can see this movie hitting its mark with some younger, more fledgling horror fans, but be aware that there are far, far better examples out there.