movie reelist poster placeholder

The Bye Bye Man

Coming Soon



Directed by:

The Bye Bye Man wasn’t meant for 44-year old Me. It wasn’t made for someone who watches horror movies on a regular basis, who publishes within the genre, and reads voraciously. 44-year old Me would say this movie is tired and trots out tropes older than its leading actors. There is absolutely nothing new this movie can offer to the genre.
However – the PG-13 Rating, the lack of blood and skin and swearing tells me this movie wasn’t made for me. I’m not the target demographic – 14-year old me is. This is the kind of movie high-school sophomore Me would eat up and ask for seconds. When I think about how I would have watched this movie, I think I would have really enjoyed it.
It with at least 4 deaths, which take place in 1969, as a man goes from door to door demanding if the residents have repeated the name they discussed. Since he can’t trust them to not lie, he chases them down and kills them. This is called a setup, because bad things always happen in the past first.
Now in the cool future, college kids, Elliot (Douglas Smith, Ouija (2014)), Sasha (Cressida Bonas), John Henry (Lucien Laviscount, Fox’s Scream Queens) rent this old run-down house with some money they have and within literal seconds it’s decorated with the furniture. They throw a housewarming party and while Elliot’s brother has his reservations about renting a house with his fave bro-dude and girlfriend, Elliot is sure this is how he wants to spend the rest of his life. This is the life I saw myself living when I went college and clearly it’s as awesome as I imagined.
See mom, it really is that easy.
Goth Psychic Friend (Jenna Kanell, Demonica’s Reign (2011)) says the house has a bad energy, and Elliot repeats the name. Now they’re all infected and more Bad Things will happen. The gist is this – if you say this reaper’s name, he will make you see terrible things and you will feel compelled to act by killing everyone around you. Then his misshapen dog will eat your face. Elliot needs to stop this because it’s totally wrecking his relationships. Sasha has a weird cough, John Henry can’t please the ladies and Elliot starts to believe his girl and his bro are making with the body Morse code behind his back. Because this is the worst thing ever when you’re a teenager – unfaithfulness, a cough and penis issues.
There’s a train #4241, which has nothing to do with anything, butt shots and very little blood. It’s a horror movie for kids easing their way into horror movies. It’s a starter horror movie for kids graduating from kid-friendly horror they watch with Mom and Dad to something they can see as a group without the R rating.  I don’t have a problem with that.
If they’re used to heavily edited horror on TV, like the kind they show in basic cable and OTA channels around Halloween, this this movie won’t be an issue. The Bye Bye Man is exactly the kind of creepy fun Reaper you expect from Doug Jones (FX’s The Strain), and there isn’t so much blood you feel slimy in your seat. Sanitized scares for the helicopter captive.
I can only imagine Faye Dunaway (Mommie Dearest (1981)) is being held against her will and this film provides Proof of Life.
You will know the familiar beats as they hit – psychic goth friend (kudos for not being “wiccan”), the library-research montage, the sassy black woman, the cops who don’t understand, the old woman with all of the answers – you will see these familiar beats coming from a mile away – but not if you’re young.
Not if you haven’t burned through your horror section at the local video store. Not if you haven’t spent weekend mornings on Screambox, Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime. Not if this hasn’t been your life blood for the last 25 years.
On a more positive note, this move is beautifully shot and director Stacy Title has an eye for angles and dark corners, just not for competent tension or psychological terror. If she sticks to starter horror for kids, she’ll be fine. The screenplay by Jonathan Penner, it’s based on the short story, “The Bridge to Body Island” by story by Robert Damon Schneck, known for his X-Files style books and articles of American History.
This movie was not for me, and I can appreciate that. This is a movie your older kids can go to while you take in something a little more adult, like Rogue One (2016) for the 15th time.
So, lower your expectations, take your best girl to a Saturday matinee and have your mom drop you off on the corner so you can walk in together. You’ll buy the popcorn and she’ll buy the Junior Mints, and you’ll split a soda. It’s good to be 14 again, and you’ll need that youthful enthusiasm to enjoy this film.
The Bye Bye Man is rated PG-13 jump scares, Doug Jones silently doing what he does best, 19-year old angst about sex and love terror, suggested sex, blood, very light language, and college teens drinking beer.

The Bye Bye Man is streaming now on the following services:
Movie Reelist Contributor: MontiLee Stormer
MontiLee Stormer is a writer of horror, dark and urban fantasy. She’s also is a troublemaker, concocting acts of mayhem and despair for her own selfish pleasure. An avid movie watcher, she prefers horror but will see just about anything if you're buying. Poltergeist (1982) is her favorite movie and she actively hates The Shining (1980) due to its racism, misogyny, the butchering of the source material. She could host a TEDtalk on this single subject. Writing about herself in the third person is just a bonus.

Leave a comment...