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.
NRA members will love lousy pseudo-political horror-thriller "The Purge: Election Year." In fact, the tagline for "Election Year" might as well be "the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun."
"Election Year" doesn't just encourage viewers to cheer when garden-variety psychopaths are shot up, hit by cars, blown up, or stabbed to death during "Purge Night," a government-sanctioned holiday where citizens are encouraged to "purge and purify" themselves by committing crimes. Writer/director James DeMonaco (the last two "Purge" movies) also goads viewers with moral posturing by pitting working-class characters against hypocritical politicians, European "murder tourists," and other sloganeering baddies who insist that violence is an American pastime. If that's true, then DeMonaco's film is a prime example of the condition it derides, a fetid slice of US exploitation cinema that chides audience members while ineffectively whipping them into a frenzy. This movie is an ugly provocation, one that feels especially crass in light of national tragedies like the recent shooting in Orlando.
Since this is the second sequel to DeMonaco's relatively tolerable "The Purge," "Election Year" does not significantly develop or expand on the original film's premise. The New Founding Fathers of America (NFFA), a cartoonishly evil group of blue-blood politicians who oppress the poor, are still somehow in control, and still using Purge Night to line their own pockets. So it's up to Senator Charlie Roan (Elizabeth Mitchell) to stop Purge Night—provided she survives. The NFFA target Roan for assassination, leaving it up bodyguard Leo Barnes (Frank Grillo), and working-class bystanders Joe (Mykelti Williamson) and Dawn (Liza Colon-Zayas) to keep the senator alive.
The fundamental problem with this scenario is that the violence in "Election Year" is only selectively ugly. On one hand, the movie seems to have been shot with a beer-bottle filter, and the series' usual jiggly hand-held digital photography is used to cover instead of direct action scenes. But the violence in the movie is supposed to be not only cathartic, but downright crowd-pleasing. Roan may talk a good game, yet she never protests too much when Leo and his allies stop bad guys by murdering them. The NFFA—who don't really resemble Donald Trump, despite the film's tagline of "Keep America Great"—are supposed to be bad because they talk out of both sides of their mouths. But while their leaders protest that it is not "hypocritical" to purge because violence is "purifying," we're supposed to enjoy watching Dawn take out whatever generic bad guys that Leo isn't able to. There may be nothing substantially different between Leo's and the NFFA's methods. But any claims to effective satire go out the window when your villains are yelling about the American nature of violence, and the only response they get is a grisly death.
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