Saturday 14 January 2017

"The Bye Bye Man" (Guardian 13/01/17)

The Bye Bye Man *
Dir: Stacy Title. With: Douglas Smith, Lucien Laviscount, Cressida Bonas, Carrie-Anne Moss. 96 mins. Cert: 15

Every Friday the 13th, Mammon demands another teenbait horrorshow with which to befoul multiplexes. Here we find former indie spirit Stacy Title (Let the Devil Wear Black) schlocking out, possibly explaining the incongruous Rilke quotations and alt-rock T-shirts adorning this otherwise artless shambles, a Candyman shorn of all subtexts. Three blandies install themselves in ominously spacious student digs and – after aeons of poking about that suggest Scream never happened – inadvertently summon the titular fiend, a Poundland Voldemort whose name spawns a handy dual-action mantra-cum-strapline: “Don’t think it, don’t say it.” (To which some wag has doubtless already appended “Don’t see it.”)

Even at its copout conclusion – blatantly shilling for sequels – there’s marked editorial confusion as to how this boogeyman presents, beyond the usual loud farts on the soundtrack. (The students’ coughing and hallucinations could as likely be a result of carbon monoxide poisoning.) Half-hearted digging into Old Bye Bye’s genesis occasions direly acted flashbacks and meetings with expositional librarians, but curiously not the gore young adults might in good faith have paid to see. There’s not a memorable kill in these 96 minutes, and one fatal shotgun blast leaves behind only a light grey smear, as though the effects team had popped out for Hobnobs.

Title’s other notional wows include a cameo from the same Hollywood great who signed up to be molested by a monkey in 1996’s Dunston Checks In, but the ensuing huffing-and-puffing proves typical of a film more often unintentionally amusing than jolting in any way. It’s the kind of stopgap, date-dependent junk where an establishing shot of a college campus cues several bars of a composer trying to remember how The Social Network sounded, and where the students pursue their nemesis via a search engine called “Search”, because nobody associated with the project elected to surrender a single bright idea in return for their paycheque.

The Bye Bye Man is now playing in cinemas nationwide.

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