The Bye Bye Man
Appearances by Faye Dunaway and Carrie-Anne Moss enliven this unoriginal horror
Stacy Title's latest directorial effort is a throwback to early 00s American teen horror such as Jeepers Creepers and Final Destination. Although it lacks originality it plays a little better than the silly title suggests. Writer Jonathan Penner (Title's spouse) reaches further back into the horror canon to the 90s with a simple set-up that bears comparison to Bernard Rose's seminal Candyman, with characters doomed to hallucinate and enact violence if they dare to utter the titular character's name.
When three students – Elliot (Douglas Smith), his best friend John (Lucien Laviscount) and girlfriend Sasha (Cressida Bonas) – move in together at the start of the school year they have nothing but high hopes for the future. But very soon male insecurity weaves its way into Elliot's mind via his brother Virgil (Michael Trucco), as his sibling plants seeds of suspicion regarding the relationship between John and Sasha. The group are joined by young psychic and Goth Kim (Jenna Kanell, whose mannerisms recall Rebecca Hall and Neve Campbell) who is asked to perform a cleansing ritual by Sasha.
Faye Dunaway makes an appearance as an elderly widow, at first on a staircase by flickering candlelight and then by a fireplace in a grand house. She advises Elliot on the best course of action to cure his woes, but some bog-standard CGI badly hampers their creepy encounter. Carrie-Anne Moss also appears as a detective who makes a reference to the Columbine High School massacre, a nod to the film's flimsy attempts to explore the psychology behind horrific mass murders. The theme of so-called senseless killings in suburban settings recurs throughout, with all types of people committing violent acts. That the filmmakers opt to clutter their film with clichés and lose sight of that line of enquiry is a terrible shame.
General release from Fri 13 Jan.