The Bye Bye Man

Directed by Stacy Title 

Starring Douglas Smith, Lucien Laviscount, Cressida Bonas 

Rated PG-13

View the trailer here.

Freddy will get you if you fall asleep.  Jason owns your butt if you skinny-dip in Camp Crystal Lake.  Candyman will show up if you say his name three times.  Pinhead will appear if you solve the puzzle box.  Samara will track you down a week after you watch the cursed videotape.  The Bye Bye Man presents a deadly specter that will haunt you, and kill you, if you so much as think about him, let alone mentioning his name.  “Don’t think it, don’t say it” is the mantra.

Three college friends—a couple and another guy—rent a spooky old 3-story house so as to live off-campus.  Weird stuff starts happening.  A séance doesn’t help.  A grinning, pasty-faced ooga-booga in a hoodie starts showing up, occasionally accompanied by a “hound,” a lumbering CGI beast whose fur appears to have been burned off for unexplained reasons.  The specter can make you see things that aren’t there, or fail to see things that are in front of your face.  Paranoia results, often leading his victims to kill each other.

The Bye Bye Man has an OK cast (I certainly didn’t expect to see Faye Dunaway!), good location work, and a few jumpy moments, but it doesn’t add up.  I don’t mind not knowing more about the specter in question—whether he’s a ghost or a demon, what his origins are, etc.—since over-explaining supernatural characters tends to make them less frightening.  Still, it’d be helpful to know why saying “the Bye Bye Man” triggers such dire consequences for our protagonists, but not for you and me.  Maybe there’s more background in the source story, “The Bridge to Body Island,” in an anthology of supposedly true stories collected by Robert Damon Schneck in a book originally titled The President’s Vampire.  (Current editions bear the movie’s title.)

As it is, The Bye Bye Man comes across as basically another of the current spate of PG-13 ghost stories—even a series of shotgun murders is curiously bloodless.  Horror fans might find it reasonably diverting, but I wouldn’t recommend you pay full ticket for it.  Which is to say (as I often advise): catch it on cable.


Lyndon Joslin