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.
Metallica doesn't do anything small. Their songs are relentless assaults of sound, sometimes topping the 8 or 9-minute mark. It's not a surprise then that "Metallica: Through the Never," their 3-D IMAX concert film/apocalyptic Mad Max story, directed by Nimród Antal, is a gigantic spectacle, a virtual-reality experience that is both ridiculous and sublime, sometimes in the same moment.
The band members, lead singer/guitarist James Hetfield, lead guitarist Kirk Hammett, drummer Lars Ulrich, and bassist Robert Trujillo, came up with the concept, giving it a personal stamp which longtime Metallica fans will recognize. The Metallica concert in the film features laser beams, a Tesla coil shooting actual lightning bolts through the air, a gigantic statue of Lady Justice which crumbles to bits around the band members, white crosses emerging from beneath the stage floor, dry ice…the only thing missing from that arena stage is an 18-inch tall Stone Henge. Meanwhile, there's a fictional storyline that runs alongside the concert: a young roadie named Trip (Dane DeHaan) is sent on an important mission to retrieve a bag needed by the band. "Metallica: Through the Never" moves back and forth, from concert to Trip and back.
The concert was filmed at Rexall Place, an arena in Edmonton, Alberta. The stage is huge and cross-shaped, with Lars Ulrich's drum set placed in the transept. The three other guys wander around freely, sometimes meeting up, but mostly facing out, communicating with the masses of gyrating fans. Twenty-four cameras were used, and cinematographer Gyula Pados brings us in close enough that we can almost feel the sweat flying off of Trujillo's long hair as he spins his head, and also pulls us back, way back, to give a sense of the sheer scope of the production and the audience. The fans are packed in tight, pushing against the barriers near the stage, pulsing their arms in the air. The effect of all of this is so visceral and immediate that it really is the next best thing to being there.
Cutting away from the concert to follow Trip's attempt to retrieve the missing bag is a risky device and doesn't work initially, because the concert is so engrossing you resent being made to leave it. But it grew on me as the film progressed, and ended up having a startlingly emotional resonance by the closing shots of the film. Here's what happens. Trip takes off in a battered van to go get this missing bag. Civilization appears to have broken down. Cars are on fire. Riot police and mobs face off. People are strung up from lampposts and dangle in the wind. (There's a reason "Metallica: Through the Never" is rated R.) Trip finds himself singled out by the mob. A literal horseman of the Apocalypse, wielding a gigantic mallet and wearing a gas mask, gallops after him. Trip is beaten up, set on fire, dragged behind a horse, chased through dark alleys. What is in the bag that Metallica needs? Well, if you've seen your Hitchcock, then you know that doesn't matter.