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.
Corin Hardy ran the risk of overselling supernatural horror film "The Hallow," his debut feature, by describing it as a cross between "Straw Dogs" and "Pan's Labyrinth." But Hardy's film is more like another acknowledged influence: Sam Raimi's "The Evil Dead." Like "The Evil Dead," "The Hallow" takes place in an isolated cabin-in-the-woods setting, and has a highly satisfying preoccupation with practical creature/make-up effects. "The Hallow" also de-emphasizes human drama to the point where it often feels like a Jenga tower of set pieces, a disappointing fact that's most apparent during the film's first 40 minutes.
Still, once you get over that hump, "The Hallow" is mostly compelling thanks to its over-determined focus on the shape and texture of its central haunted house location, especially waxy mottled skin, pus-and-blood-infected wounds and rapidly-putrefying wood-floorboards. "The Hallow" isn't fueled by the same manic energy as "The Evil Dead," so it understandably flags whenever it's not mining deep pockets of unnerving violence. But when the film is fixated on body horror transformations and home invasion thrills, "The Hallow" earns comparisons to Raimi's genre milestone.
Since characters ultimately feel incidental in "The Hallow," the slowest part of the film is its set-up. We spend a lot of time with Adam (Joseph Mawle), an arborologist investigating a mysterious black fungus, and his wife Clare (Bojana Novakovic), but never really learn what makes them tick beyond skepticism and love for each other. Hardy and co-writer Felipe Marino take their sweet time in setting up Adam's research and the hostile natives that warn him against poking around an Irish forest—one supposedly haunted by banshees, sprites and other menacing fairy tale monsters. Still, Adam persists, and sure enough, he, Clare and their child are subsequently attacked by various creatures of the night.
You'll probably be in the dark about the exact mythology and meaning of these creatures unless you're already familiar with Irish folklore. But by the time "The Hallow" gets going, its story is blessedly simple: Adam and Clare must save their child from being abducted by monsters, although Adam's priorities gradually shift after he is infected by one of his attackers.
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