Blu-ray Review: The Bye Bye Man

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Cobbled together from bits and pieces of other movies, The Bye Bye Man offers serviceable thrills but nothing likely to stay with you after the credits roll. Released theatrically in January, director Stacy Title's atmospheric chiller concerns the titular villain who infiltrates one's life after speaking or even thinking his name. While there's nothing distinctive about the derivative film, it is competently made and boasts a few effective jump scares. The Bye Bye Man debuts on Digital HD on April 11, while the Blu-ray and DVD arrive April 25. 
bye bye man 1.jpg The 1969-set flashbacks that help establish the legend are the most violent and upsetting of the entire film. In a typical suburb an agitated man carries a shotgun, in broad daylight, to confront an average housewife. He demands to know if she spoke the "name" to anyone else before blowing her away. He moves on to finish off anyone else in the house, not to mention concerned neighbors who turn up. Removed from any supernatural hokum, the image of a deranged gunman blasting away through a sunny neighborhood is the true stuff of nightmares. The matter-of-fact visual style employed by Title enhances the disconcerting feelings. 

bye bye man 2.jpg As for the present day there's an interesting (though mostly unexplored) domestic setup involving a sickeningly-in-love young couple—Elliot (Douglas Smith) and Sasha (Cressida Bonas)—shacking up with eligible bachelor John (Lucien Laviscount). This awkward dynamic, with insecure Elliot constantly paranoid about sparks developing between Sasha and John, is touched upon but not exploited to its maximum. As the trio settles into their rented house, things begin going bump in the night. A scribbled message in a nightstand drawer tips Elliot off about the Bye Bye Man and soon everyone in the house knows about it.

Once the Bye Bye Man (Doug Jones) haunts your mind, he has the power to make any given person in front of you appear to be someone else. The frenzied climax finds some creative usages of this scenario, with the housemates' medium friend Kim (Jenna Kanell) factoring into the mix. It was Kim who helped unlock the Man during a seance early on. Perceptions are scrambled as Sasha appears to be Kim to John, who in turn appears as Elliot to Sasha, and so on. It's all silly enough, but there are worse films to spend 90 minutes watching. 

rsz_bye_bye_man_bd.jpgUniversal's Blu-ray offers an "unrated" cut that runs about three minutes longer than the PG-13 theatrical version. Presumably the goriest moments (and a few blue jokes) are among the newly added material. The Blu-ray's DTS-HD 5.1 surround mix is unusually good, with some truly jolting moments to contrast the long stretches of relative quiet.

Go in with low expectations and The Bye Bye Man delivers just goosebump moments to work (younger, less horror movie-savvy viewers will likely get more mileage). Plus there's the spectacle of Faye Dunaway cameo'ing as an aging widow with a key to defeating the Bye Bye Man once and for all.

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Chaz Lipp writes for The Morton Report.

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