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.
In the late 19th century, American corporations backed by U.S. Marines overthrew the legitimate monarchy of Hawaii. One of the conspirators was Sanford B. Dole, of pineapple fame. Princess Kaiulani, niece of King David Kalakaua, was in England at the time, getting a thorough Victorian education. After Kalakaua's death, Queen Liliuokalani became his successor to the throne and resisted the outsiders. Then Kaiulani returned and took up the doomed struggle.
Princess Kaiulani is much remembered in Hawaii, much forgotten on the mainland, and the subject of this interesting but creaky biopic. She (played here by Q'orianka Kilcher) was the child of a Hawaiian mother who died when she was young and a Scottish father, Archibald Cleghorn (Jimmy Yuill). It was he who feared his daughter's life was in danger from the Americans, returned her to Britain and to the household of his friend Theo Davies (Julian Glover). In the U.K., she attended a rigorous boarding school, where there was some rudeness but the children of foreign royalty were not unknown. And she fell in love with the Davies' son, Clive (Shaun Evans).
News of the uprising was withheld from her, but when she learned, she blamed the Davies family for concealing telegrams, hurried home and moved into the Iolani Palace. (The film opens with her throwing a switch to illuminate the place and bring electricity to Honolulu; the palace had electric lighting before the White House.)
The real Iolani Palace, usually closed to the public but handsomely maintained, was made available to the filmmakers, and is one of a wealth of Hawaiian locations that make the film effortlessly authentic. Indeed, in production values, the film is flawless. But it plays too sedately, moves too slowly and contemplates the occupation of a sovereign kingdom with a curious impassivity.