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.
Edward D. Wood Jr. must have been the Will Rogers of filmmaking: He never directed a shot he didn't like. It takes a special weird genius to be voted the Worst Director of All Time, a title that Wood has earned by acclamation. He was so in love with every frame of every scene of every film he shot that he was blind to hilarious blunders, stumbling ineptitude, and acting so bad that it achieved a kind of grandeur. But badness alone would not have been enough to make him a legend; it was his love of film, sneaking through, that pushes him over the top.
Wood's most famous films are "Plan 9 from Outer Space" (during which his star, Bela Lugosi, died and was replaced by a double with a cloak pulled over his face), and "Glen or Glenda," in which Wood himself played the transvestite title roles. It was widely known even at the time that Wood himself was an enthusiastic transvestite, and when Tim Burton, director of the "Batman" movies, announced a project named "Ed Wood," I assumed it would be some kind of a camp sendup, maybe a cross between "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" and "Sunset Boulevard." I assumed wrong. What Burton has made is a film which celebrates Wood more than it mocks him, and which celebrates, too, the zany spirit of 1950s exploitation films - in which a great title, a has-been star and a lurid ad campaign were enough to get bookings for some of the oddest films ever made. It was a decade when there were still lots of drive-in movie theaters, cut-price fleapits and small-town bijous that thrived on grade Z double features.
The people who made many of those films may have been hucksters and conmen, but they were not devoid of a sense of humor, and often their movies had more life and energy than their betters. America's theaters hadn't been centralized and computerized, and you couldn't book 2,000 screens with a single keystroke, and Ed Woods could thrive.
Burton's career has always shown a fondness for touching outsiders, like "Beetlejuice" and "Edward Scissorhands", "Batman" and Jack Skellington (the lonely star of "Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas"). In "Ed Wood," he gives us a hero who is not merely an outsider, but one who attracts even more desperate cases to himself. Played with warmth and enthusiasm by Johnny Depp, Wood is a guy who simply must make movies - and who is so bedazzled by Hollywood legend that he mistakes poor Bela Lugosi, long past his prime and mired in drug addiction, as a star.