The Bye Bye Man is a supernatural horror film that sets up all the necessary genre tropes but somehow fails to deliver a satisfying ending that pays off on any of them.
Elliot (Douglas Smith), his girlfriend Sasha (Cressida Bonas) and his best friend John (Lucien Laviscount) move into an off campus house at their university. The sort of house no teenager in a horror film has any right to be moving into; large, creepy, cold and apparently on the edge of woods. An old bedside table bears the warning “don’t think it, don’t say it” repeatedly and etched into the base of the draw the words “The Bye Bye Man”. A force of evil so strong that once spoken gets into the heads of all those who heard the name.
The film sets up some interesting plot threads. Elliot’s parents died in a crash when he was young, and we are informed he and his brother have a strong bond as a result. His best friend John apparently looked out for him and no one talks of the crash. There is a series of flashbacks set in the 60’s that seem to show the last occurrence of the Bye Bye Man and a widow who may be able to offer more information. And the Bye Bye Man appears to feed on fear and have a hound from Hell. All of these threads seem to be offering the possibility of some connection between the past and present or the origin of the malevolent spirit. But none of it is resolved, nor does it matter. Essentially it just boils down to some teenagers minds playing tricks on them and them falling apart. Whilst of course leaving enough space for a franchise.
The one truly positive aspect would be the creepy Doug Jones (Pan’s Labyrinth, Hellboy 2) as the Bye Bye Man although his CGI hound is much less impressive.