The Bye Bye Man
The Bye Bye Man is the kind of film that is so boring and bereft of anything of possible interest that it becomes infuriating.
One of the benefits of home video is that it sometimes allows the director to have the last word - if not sooner, then later. Ever since Steven Spielberg released the “Special Edition” of his “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” directors have been re-editing their movies and releasing versions that are longer, or sexier, or more profound, or in any event different from the versions that were originally released to theaters.
Sometimes the changes are minor - a few more nude scenes, or longer dialogue. Sometimes they are substantial, as in the new director's version of Ridley Scott's “Blade Runner” (1982), which is playing in theaters on its way to home video. Scott has abandoned the Harrison Ford narration of the original version, added some moments to the love affair between Ford and Sean Young, fleshed out a few other scenes and, most notably, provided what he describes as a “somewhat bleaker ending.” This is, he says, the version he would have released in 1982 if he could have. The Ford narration was added because the studio feared audiences would not understand his story of a futuristic Los Angeles. The new ending, which is ironic and inconclusive and gives Ford an existentialist exit line, was of course dropped by studio executives for a more standard violent outcome.
I watched the original “Blade Runner” on video a few years ago, and now, watching the director's cut, I am left with the same over-all opinion of the movie: It looks fabulous, it uses special effects to create a new world of its own, but it is thin in its human story. The movie creates a vision of Los Angeles, circa 2020, which is as original and memorable as such other future worlds as Fritz Lang's “Metropolis” or George Lucas' “Star Wars” planets. Unimaginable skyscrapers tower over streets that are clotted with humanity; around the skirts of the billion-dollar towers, the city at ground level looks like a third-world bazaar.
The Ford character inhabits this city as a “blade runner” - a cop assigned to track down and kill “replicants,” who are artificial humans, built through genetic engineering. After an uprising on an outworld, six replicants have returned secretly to Earth, where their deaths have been ordered by the slimy leader of an evil megacorporation (Joe Turkel). Ford, on their trail, encounters Rachael (Sean Young, in an early role) and falls in love with her, as the screenplay toys with the nature of humanity.