There may be an overlap between ideas, language and reality -- but that sort of potential is far from realized in The Bye Bye Man.  This is a complete wreck of a horror movie.

The movie opens in 1969, as a man keeps muttering to himself "Don't say it, don't think it" while walking from house to house with a shotgun, asking people if they told anyone the name.  Then he shoots them.
Jump to the present, where college student Elliot (Douglas Smith), his girlfriend Sasha (Cressida Bonas), and his good friend John (Lucien Laviscount) have rented an off-campus house where they can live.  As usual for a horror movie, there are the beginning minor events: the sound of a coin falling and rolling, what look like figures in the darkness, scratching noises in the middle of the night.  Elliot finds that inside a nightstand, "don't say it, don't think" has been written over and over -- and under it are the words "the Bye Bye Man."

After their psychically sensitive friend Kim (Jenna Kanell) has a seance with the three main characters, Elliot mentions the name "the Bye Bye Man" -- and things get really bad.  All the main characters start hearing or seeing things -- sometimes driving the people to kill themselves.  Some characters who heard the name "the Bye Bye Man" kill others they might have told it to, then themselves.  And Elliot's research suggests that the more "the Bye Bye Man" is said or thought, the stronger he becomes.  Elliot also starts having visions of a cloaked figure, sometimes with a large dog-like creature covered in blood...
Mythology becoming reality has been done in horror movies before, but never as badly as in The Bye Bye Man.  This movie has the unfortunate -- but common in many horror movies -- element of the actors being poor in their roles and having paper-thin characters.  The movie has a visual sense of persistent gloom, from the poorly-lit house to surprisingly dismal daytime scenes.  Lots of things about the movie make no sense, from why the Bye Bye Man kills people whose knowledge of him is what lets him to exist to the point od the dog-type-thing, which adds nothing to the movie.  And worst of all for a horror movie, this isn't scary.  The title character looks like a failed makeup project from Face Off, and the movie lacks either jump scares or growing dread and menace.

I was the only person in the theater showing The Bye Bye Man, and the people who skipped it were luckier than I was.  This may well be the worst movie of the year -- and it's only January!

Overall grade: F
Reviewed by James Lynch

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