April 6, 2017
The local newspaper ads for this film boldly declared it to be "America's highest grossing horror movie with gross of over 20M USD." Oddly though in spite of such a claim, I had never heard of this title before. There also appears to be no known actors in it as well so I guessed this is one of those low-budget horror film. Anyhow, the name of the title character sounded original, so I thought I'd give it a go.
It was 1969. A man named Larry went on a shooting rampage in a quiet suburban neighborhood. Using a shotgun, he killed a number of people who had been told a certain name which they should not think nor say to anyone else.
Fast forward to the present, when three friends Elliot, his girlfriend Sasha and his best friend John rent a house near their university. Elliot finds a mysterious coin under an old bedside table. On the paper that lined the inside the drawer of this table was written repeated warnings of "Don't think it. Don't say it." On the wood under the lining was carved the name "Bye Bye Man." When Elliot blurted out this name to his friends one night, they began seeing progressively confusing and increasingly dangerous hallucinations.
Granted the acting of the three lead actors (Douglas Smith as Elliot, Lucien Laviscount as John and Cressida Bonas as Sasha) were not too stellar, however the horror premise of this film was not as bad as I initially thought. The confusion experienced by the young people due to their misleading visions were very well translated on screen by director Stacy Title.
As far as the Bye Bye Man is concerned, I wish they did not have to show him too clearly as they did as this creepy bald ugly man in an hooded overcoat. This made him lose some sense of menace and mystique. I felt he was some sort of Freddie Kruger wannabe (without a razor glove) who causes people to kill for him if they thought or said his name -- but how? and why? I wish they told us something about his background and origin. The actor behind BBM is Doug Jones, an actor known for acting under prosthetics as he did as the Faun in "Pan's Labyrinth" and as Silver Surfer in "Fantastic Four."
The cast is not composed of all relatively unknown new actors though. I was surprised to recognize Carrie-Anne Moss in there as Detective Shaw who was in charge of Elliot's case. Even more surprising was the appearance of no less than Faye Dunaway in the key role of the Widow Redmon who survived the 1969 massacre. Despite Dunaway's notorious gaffe in the announcement of the Oscar Best Picture result earlier this year, it was actually welcome to see her on the big screen once again after a long absence.
The most disturbing scenes in this film were those frank pointblank shooting spree scenes in the beginning and revisited in the second half. These scenes were hard to watch without flinching. They reminded me of how I felt watching the similarly stark murder scenes in "In Cold Blood". The scenes with the nightmarish narrowed corridors with old-fashioned floral wallpaper on the walls reminded me of "The Shining."
Even though its backstory was absent, dialogue cheesy and the acting occasionally funny (be it inadvertent or not), I still thought this film was able to create an effective suspenseful atmosphere. It was not really as awful as other reviews would have you think. 5/10.