Horror tale offers few scares, raises many questions

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In order for Freddy Krueger to get you, you had to fall asleep. Candyman was powerless unless you said his name in the mirror three times. And as long as you weren’t hanging out in rural Texas, you were pretty much safe from Leatherface’s reign of terror.

The Bye Bye Man has one over on the rest of his horror peers. All you have to do is hear his name or learn of his existence and you’re in big, big trouble. “Don’t think it, don’t say it” is the motto to keep him away. But if you’re consciously not thinking about him or saying his name, you’re subconsciously thinking about him (right?) and it’s already too late.

As far as motivations go, that’s pretty broad, but “The Bye Bye Man” doesn’t do much to explain his reasoning. He’s a psychological boogey man who apparently just wants to be left alone, and he drives anyone who dares to let his name cross their mind to a rather gruesome end.

Directed by Stacy Title, “The Bye Bye Man” is a half-step better than your standard January horror fare, if only because its inventive climactic sequence shifts playfully between reality and the points-of-view of its three main characters.

Those characters are a trio of Wisconsin college students who move into an off-campus house and immediately find strange things start happening, not the least of which is their decision to sign up for landline telephone service.

There aren’t really scares in “The Bye Bye Man” so much as there are questions, very few of which come with satisfactory answers. But it keeps you guessing, if only to find out, “uh, is that all there is?” Don’t think it, don’t say it.

agraham@detroitnews.com

(313) 222-2284

@grahamorama

‘The Bye Bye Man’

GRADE: C-

Rated PG-13 for terror, horror violence, bloody images, sexual content, thematic elements, partial nudity, some language and teen drinking

Running time: 96 minutes

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