HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: The Bye Bye Man
HTS Overall Score:73
The grim reaper. The man behind the mask. The force of evil that everyone knows is there but can never prove. Multiple theories and takes on the reaper have been theorized and written about for years, but none is so “unique” as Stacy Title’s newest horror film. I’ve never read the original story by Robert Damon Schneck (from the story “The Bridge to Body Island”), but I doubt that this will be replacing Freddy, Jason or the like anytime soon. I saw the trailer for “The Bye Bye Man” some time ago and the title alone had me rolling my eyes towards heaven. Who named their villain “The Bye Bye Man”? It just felt like a cheap slasher trick and the trailer didn’t exactly inspire a whole lot of confidence in the film. Fast forward months and I have the film in hand and am bracing myself for a theoretically painful viewing experience. Pop it in, and smokin' joes. The movie isn’t half bad by horror/slasher standards. Don’t get me wrong. “The Bye Bye Man” doesn’t reinvent the wheel or make a classic that will go down in the annals of film history, but despite some overuse of typical horror clichés there’s a decent premise behind the mediocre horror film.
The film opens up a man screaming and ranting to a fellow neighbor, questioning whether she “told anyone the name” before brutally slaughtering 8 people with a shotgun and then apparently offing himself. Move forward several decades and three college students are leasing a ramshackle old house off of campus for the year. Elliot (Douglass Smith), his girlfriend Sasha (Cressida Bonas) and their buddy John (Lucien Laviscount) are all ready for living it up off campus, but soon they discover that they may be in for a rough semester. Elliot starts to hear things (like a coin drop) after he reads aloud the words “Bye Bye Man” that are scratched into an old nightstand. Soon the trio start to see and feel things as the mysterious reaper that has been summoned from saying those words begins to take over their minds and have them commit horrible atrocities.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=94993[/img]Well, things go from bad to worse as the atrocities start piling up and Elliot starts researching on how to get this thing out of his (and his friends) heads. It seems that this opening scene with a man murdering 8 people in 1969 was about this horrible monster and he was the only one alive who now remembers the being. With Elliot and his friends accidentally resurrecting the Bye Bye Man, they have to figure out a way to stuff him back into the box that he came from without losing their minds or their lives. That is, if they CAN.
Jonathan Penner’s script is a bit heavy handed and cliched, but the premise of a monster who can alter your mind and gain more power with your fear is pretty enticing. I mean, the whole “Nightmare on Elm Street” series were based off that idea and have done pretty well. It’s just that “The Bye Bye Man” is filled with every horror cliché and trope known to man. The typical jump effects, the tension of waiting for him to make his first appearance, and the classic kills that lead up to inevitable doom for our main heroes (including the classic ending where nothing EVER ends on a happy note). It’s just all been done before. The PG-13 rating also doesn’t help it one bit. Something that the unrated cut actually helps a little bit, but adding back in cuts that show the kills with more gore and violence. Something that looked really odd in the PG-13 cut. The deaths seemed choppy and lame, but the addition of the close ups and brain matter and blood oozing everywhere gave it a distinctly “horrific” feeling. Thus I DEFINITELY recommend watching the Unrated cut and just ignoring the PG-13 theatrical version if you can.
The acting isn't the greatest, but this IS a horror movie. All the mains do a decent job with what they're given and there's even a small role from Michael Trucco (or "Battlestar Galactica" and "Wishmaster 4" fame) as Ellito's older brother. All in all it's a decent little horror flick (as horror flicks go, which doesn't always set a high bar) and I had a good amount of fun watching it. Definitely wasn't the train wreck that I was fearing it would be.
Rated PG-13 for terror, horror violence, bloody images, sexual content, thematic elements, partial nudity, some language and teen drinking
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=95001[/img]Universal’s 1.85:1 AVC encoded Blu-ray looks really nice considering the darkness and flat color tones that come along with the creepy little slasher/reaper film. The flashbacks to the 70s (at least I believe it was the 70s) is filled with bright yellows and overly exposed white levels, but the main “present” storyline features an ever so slightly green filter on the camera and a more subdued color palate. There are some mild primary colors that show through, such as the blood on people’s faces and the green grass of a lawn. Other than that, the movie takes a decidedly bleak and slightly flat look with a lot of emphasis on dark levels and browns. Speaking of black levels, they are rather impressive, with great shadow detail and only twice did I notice any banding (look at the headlight of the train as it’s about to hit the trio early on in the film). There’s a flicker of crush here and there, and the bleak, flat, look of the movie doesn’t make it pop very much, but it’s a very competently done film with good looking visuals and Universal did a great job with the encode.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=95009[/img]The one place that “The Bye Bye Man” simply EXCELS at is the 5.1 DTS-HD MA track that the disc is given. Horror movies are one of my favorite audio experiences as usually the genre benefits from ground surround placement and excessive bass. The same is true with “The Bye Bye Man” as it has a KILLER track (yes, pun intended) with some of the best surround utilization in a 5.1 track that I’ve ever heard. Dialog is excellent and above reproach, but the surrounds and mains are where the goodies are at. Superb sound placement of atmospheric effects make for a joy to listen to, with the little creaks, moans and scratches shifting across the sound stage at well. The placement and localization of these atmospheric effects are only matched by the intense LFE that rocks the house with the throbbing power of a train roaring by, or a car slamming into a body and the ever-present heavy feeling of the tense score. Simply put, an amazing audio experience and the single best highlight of the disc.
“The Bye Bye Man” has a ridiculous title but a fairly cool premise. Without having read the source material from Robert Damon Schneck I can’t say if it’s any worse or better than story, but most of the films neat premise is squandered with stereotypical horror/reaper tropes. Things play out insanely predictably and by the end of the movie you can almost predict the beats before they’re going to happen. There’s no extras on board, but the video is quite good and the audio is AMAZING, even for a horror flick. The biggest boon comes in the unrated edition which shows some different angles and cuts that feel a LOT more natural and definitely regain the R rating. Something that is distinctly chopping and neutered if you’ve seen the theatrical edition. It just flows a little smoother in the kill shots, but sadly can’t make up for the mediocre happenings BEFORE the blood and violence is underway.
Starring: Douglas Smitth, Cressida Bonas, Lucien Laviscount
Directed by: Stacy Title
Written by: Jonathan Penner (Screenplay), Robert Damon Schneck (Based on "The Bridge to Body Island)
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1
Runtime: 96 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: April 11th, 2017
Buy The Bye Bye Man On Blu-ray at Amazon
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