Horror has a lot of tropes. Teenagers in the woods who anger the local hillbillies/wildlife/legends. An unstoppable serial killer who is on a warpath murdering everything in sight. Even government cover-ups that are too dangerous for the people involved. There is one trope, however, that tends to set me on edge more than others. It is the idea that the more you think, talk about, or are afraid of something the more powerful it becomes. This is probably why movies like Sinister and A Nightmare On Elm Street always held a special place in my heart.
The Bye Bye Man is another one of this ilk. The tag line “Don’t think it, Don’t say it” says it all. This movie follows a group of people who have stumbled upon a legend that is all-too real and all-too hard to get rid of. Unlike It Follows, the Bye Bye Man is not just an STD, but more of an auditory plague, with anyone who hears or talks about it being a slave to his reaper-like rampage. Where other movies of this ilk try to deal with the situation by trying to defeat the monster at hand, this movie understands what it is about.
The main character, Elliot, is a diehard skeptic of all things supernatural. This familiar character flaw rears its ugly head in the form of Elliot telling all his friends about the Bye Bye Man, thus unwittingly forcing them into the nightmare that is the hallucination-filled curse. As things start to happen, Elliot figures out that this all has happened once before and his digging through the past helps him understand there is only one way to stop this plague: kill everyone who knows about the Bye Bye Man. This is a huge turn from a lot of films of this type. The idea of people understanding that they must sacrifice themselves for the greater good of humanity is simultaneously heart wrenching and heroic.
While it does come off as a hopeless world to be a part of, there are some pretty good aspects of the Bye Bye Man. Lots of good, creepy scares without too many jumps being at the forefront. One of my main issues with this film is that you learn literally nothing about the Bye Bye Man. The problem is inherit in the nature of the villain. How can anyone ever learn more when everyone who knows about him is killed? However, the movie still tries to throw things at you that point to an origin which comes off as confusing at best. I would say it Is worth watching, but only when it comes out on Netflix.
Horror Qualifier: 8/10 Horror Quality: 5/10 Film Quality: 5/10