By Shelby Fielding (Lubbock, Texas, US)
The Bye Bye Man is a Wasted Opportunity with an Intriguing Concept:
Even though ingenuity was instructional in manufacturing the narrative of Bye Bye Man, the film wastes its originality on clichés, lazy filmmaking, and an empty screenplay with no fluidity surrounding its plot developments. Although Bye Bye Man is a film that contains an original idea that can be described as intriguing and disturbing it falls flat on its face due to the atrocious grasp upon the technical prose and complete absence of horror. This original idea focuses on this creature/supernatural deity that chooses to haunt and manipulate people who speak his name. Those who decide to speak his name find themselves trapped in this constant struggle between reality and nightmares. The film is a personification of an excellent idea being ruined by remiss filmmaking and unoriginality in creating tension.
Bye Bye Man’s marketing strategies had no effect on me, and I went into this movie with no expectations of it being surprisingly well done. While I tried my best to give the film the benefit of the doubt, it immediately followed an exciting opening scene with dreadful sequences of plot that this studio decided to name a script. The bulk of this screenplay is focused on the characters interacting with this evil, and how their interactions cause them to have altercations or vulgar exchanges between each other to create drama. This plot can only be fulfilled with great performances and an incredible use of technical filmmaking, two things this film failed to contain.
The filmmaking is dreadful in how it continues to focus on the stupidity and lunacy of clichés. The scares in this movie are completely ruined by the unoriginal design to create tension, with countless occasions of false scares in which a character is startled by a bird or a dog. The scares are also ravaged by the predictability of its developments. What I mean by that is when the film is planning to have a jump scare for the audience. You as an audience member can predict it by how the sound drops, the actors become focused, and the camera zooms in on the actors themselves or creates a wide shot with things happening in the blurry background. It’s a cliché that has been completely overused in the genre of horror, and it continues to dismantle the success of the genre from a critical standpoint. The complete lack of fluidity also destroys the tension for the screenplay, because you as audience member no longer feel tense as much as you are confused by the reasoning and interactions in this script.
No spoilers but for example, a development in the plot takes place when the main character Elliot goes to a library to find out about The Bye Bye Man. When he arrives he first types into the search engine the word Bye Bye Man which has no results, and then he decides to explore the phrase “don’t think it doesn’t say it” which had one arise from an old archive. So he gets the librarian to help him find this old article, we then get an exposition filled scene in which both actors explain everything to the audience instead of using creative filmmaking to let us know enough to figure it out on our own. This one of the many occurrences of this lackluster screenplay being used. So as far as filmmaking is considered, this is a perfect example of dispassionate filmmaking.
The direction focuses on weird zooms and Dutch angles to create a sense of entrapment, but instead, it inspires confusion because of the utter absence of character development. These characters are just there, it as if someone led them on set and told them to say these words while looking at that person, and then the director said cut. I believe toddlers could have done a better job at creating character development, and at portraying these characters. The acting is hard to watch, while it’s not entirely their fault due to this awful screenplay. The screenplay is a story that no actor could pull off in a constructive or believable portrayal. Flaws are usually hard to find, or they open debate on whether the defects affect the film in a strong way, but this movie is entirely a flaw minus one scene that opens the film with a surprising focus upon articulation that is followed by an almost horrifying destruction of a creative idea.
Bye Bye Man is another example of dispassionate filmmakers creating a movie for money and not a critical value. Bye Bye Man is an illustration, in my opinion, on why the horror genre is almost becoming a predictable and unwatchable style. This film is a perfect representation of why you should be passionate about your projects as a filmmaker. Bye Bye Man, in summary, is the embodiment of terrible filmmaking, appalling character development, disorienting plot progression, contradicting screenplay, and a complete void of tension. Please save your money and do not waste it on a film that leaves you clamoring for the reasoning of its existence.