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Movie Review

"Don't say it. Don't think it."

That's the mantra Larry Redman kept repeating back in 1969 as he murdered friends and neighbors with his 20 gauge shotgun. If you had walked along unseen behind him, you would have also heard people grunting out something about a "Bye Bye Man" just before being shredded by 300 pellets of lead.

Of course, no one knows any of that now, because everyone involved that day died—including Larry himself, who guzzled drain cleaner right after he ran out of shells.

Jump ahead to today and, well, nobody really cares about any of that ancient murderous history in that part of town. In fact, the only thing college students Elliot, girlfriend Sasha and best friend John care about is the possibility of renting a beat-up old house together. They can split the rent on this moldy old dump and get their own fully furnished pad instead of dealing with on-campus housing.

Hey, with their own place, Elliot and Sasha will have an out-of-the-way, out-of-sight spot where they can live together and, well, you know. And John is a good-looking player who can bring any girl he meets to the house and, well, you know, too. It'll be perfect.

Of course, as any horror-flick fan knows, a place like this seems pretty prime for spiritual happenings to be afoot. And I don't mean that there's a bunch of stained glass windows and a Bible laying around. No, it's the little miniature creaking doors in the hallway and in the bed rooms that don't really go anywhere. And the creepy scratching noises and sounds of dropped coins at night. Elliot's scary dreams and the fact that Sasha is always cold fall into that category, too. Not to mention the general sense that something is hiding in any given shadow.

And if Elliot and chums had been really intellectually curious in any way they might have also spotted the end table in Elliot and Sasha's room. I mean, they did move it up there from the basement. So, you would have thought they might actually open the drawer underneath and notice the liner that's covered with maniac-like scribbles of the words, "Don't say it. Don't think it."

But, hey, they're just dumb college kids. It'll all work itself out eventually, right?

Say, I know, what if everyone gets together for a séance?

You know, just for fun.

I told you it would all work itself out.

Positive Elements

In spite of their foolish choices, Elliot, Sasha and John all care about one another. And they want to help one another even though they end up doing just the opposite. Elliot states that he'd like to eventually settle down with Sasha and have a "beautiful family" just like his brother's.

Spiritual Content

The premise behind this tale is that the Bye Bye Man is a ghostly, Grim Reaper-like entity that can control anyone's mind if they say or think his name. He also travels with a demonic hound creature. That said, the movie never offers any explanation for their existence.

Sasha's friend Kim defines herself as a spiritual "sensitive." As such, she helps lead a séance and something she calls a "psychic cleansing." As for Sasha, she blanks out and creates "spirit writing" drawings of a dark demonic figure.

Elliot reads a few lines of a poem that includes the phrase, "Fortune is truly like a coin, tossed by the hand of God."

Sexual Content

Sasha wears skimpy undergarments to bed and throws an open shirt on when she gets up. Elliot and Sasha sleep together, but we never see them share more than a hug and a kiss. John stands naked in a doorway, the camera's eye taking in everything down to the top of his pelvic bone. Twice, we hear the moans and exclamations between John and someone else he's having sex with behind a closed door. We also see all three twentysomethings naked from the rear as they're walking down a railroad track.

Violent Content

The deadly action here can feel pretty intense at times, even though most of the bloody contact actually happens just off screen.

We see numerous people bleeding and being hit with shot gun pellets. The killer then drinks drain cleaner to commit suicide. A train strikes a young woman standing on the tracks. Elliot runs into a woman with his speeding vehicle, and his truck crashes and flips. We later see the dying woman leaning up against a tree, scraped, cut and bleeding.

Someone sticks a revolver in his mouth and commits suicide. A person is stabbed repeatedly in the face with a pair of scissors. The hellhound chews on a dead woman's face. A dead body is thrown to the ground from a second floor. We see several blood-smeared corpses, and someone has a vision of a woman with her eyes plucked out. An elderly woman catches fire and is engulfed in flames. And a young man gets pulled out of a burning building, but he's slashed and bleeding with about half of his face reduced to char.

Crude or Profane Language

Two fully voiced f-words and one unfinished "What the f---?" In addition, we hear about half a dozen s-words, as well as a handful of uses of "h---." Jesus' and God's names are misused well over a dozen times each, with "God" and "d--n" being combined once.

Drug and Alcohol Content

Virgil, Elliot's brother brings some wine for a housewarming gift, and people drink beer and wine at the party that night. Elliot and Sasha get slightly tipsy.

Other Negative Elements

In a vision, John sees maggots crawl out of Kim's eye. Sasha vomits out of fear.

Conclusion

"Don't say it. Don't think it."

That's the viral catchphrase that filmmakers behind this movie hope will capture your imagination and get you scurrying like a rat in the night to their flick. It's based on an urban legend-style short story called The Bridge to Body Island, by Robert Damon Schneck.

For all I know, that terror tale may have been a real shocker. But none of it translates to the screen. The Bye Bye Man is a dumb depository of derivative death-dealing that anyone who's ever watched a movie of this ilk will see coming from a mile away. It serves up poorly acted horror tropes with messy side dishes of mass murder, suicide, manslaughter-by-train, as well as a dopey-looking, inside-out Hellhound that chews out the eyes of its cloaked master's victims.

Truthfully, the only thing I found interesting here (and shocking, for that matter) was that the moviemakers somehow convinced an elderly Faye Dunaway to play a small role in the pic's third act. (Talk about mind control!)

And so, dear reader, if you're considering the prospect of plunking down your hard-earned cash to see this foul film, I only have six words for you. (Yeah, you saw that coming.)

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles

Profanity/Violence

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

Content Caution

Kids
Teens
Adults

Credits

Rating

PG-13

Readability Age Range

Author

Cast

Douglas Smith as Elliot; Lucien Laviscount as John; Cressida Bonas as Sasha; Michael Trucco as Virgil; Jenna Kanell as Kim; Carrie-Anne Moss as Detective Shaw; Faye Dunaway as Widow Redmon

Director

Stacy Title ( )

Distributor

STX Entertainment

Network

Performance

Record Label

Platform

Publisher

In Theaters

January 13, 2017

On Video

April 11, 2017

Year Published

Awards

Reviewer

Bob Hoose

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