This isn’t a very good movie. But it is a fun little easy to watch horror movie. It has a big concept, a lot of jump scares, and enough creepiness to make it worth while.
The movie has a strong opening. A man loads a shotgun and goes after his neighbors demanding to know if they said the name to anyone. He then shoots everyone. Who is this? What name? Why is it so important that they never share the name with anyone? Great start.
We are then introduced to our main trio. They are college students moving into their first off-campus house. They got a great deal on this old place, and find a basement full of furniture. They are John, Sasha, and Elliot. Elliot and Sasha are dating. John is jealous. Suddenly, as they are settling in, coins begin appearing around the bedroom. Strange noises echo out in the night. Elliot looks through and old nigh stand and finds the name “The Bye Bye Man” carved into the wood. When he says the name out loud he infects his roommate with the evil curse of the bye bye man. If you think his name, he’ll come get you. If you tell anyone his name, he’ll come after them.
The movie is poorly shot. It is filmed with the most basic coverage imaginable. I mean this movie is every problem with modern digital cinematography. Because you don’t have to worry about running out of film, you just shoot every angle imaginable for every scene and then chop it together as quickly as possible. There is no perspective. There is no real sense of building tension through camera work. Whatever tension is achieved is built through sound design and performance.
The story telling is also pretty mediocre. I mention that Elliot and Sasha are dating, and John is jealous. Is the movie about jealousy? No. Does it spend a lot of time dealing with jealousy? Yes. Does it really play into the narrative or come together in a thematic way? No. It just ends up being window dressing.
Now, why did I like this movie? Because it’s easy to watch. It’s all sound design and loud musical cues. It has a creepy concept that worked for me. It doesn’t challenge the viewer the way an experience like Hereditary or Conjuring does. It’s creepy enough. It has the jumps and jolts. It’s not good, but it goes down smooth.
There are a couple of really good scenes that work for me. One is the seance that kicks off the horror. I’m a sucker for a good seance scene. I just love when someone is filled with fear and sharing these things that they are experiencing that aren’t there. This one has someone sharing details that they are hearing from all the spirits inhabiting the place, and the spirits are all terrified of this bye bye man. It’s frightening and fun. I love that stuff.
I also love the idea of slowly losing your mind and not knowing if what you see is real or is imagined. That idea frightens me so much. I love it.
So maybe my taste is way off, but this movie works for me. It doesn’t execute the idea the best, but it has the idea. It was fun for me. I know critics savaged this movie, and audiences disliked it. I understand why, but it was enough fun for me. It’s a half cup of tea. It’s a bad movie, but I had fun. C-