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.
This film gets one and a half stars out of me because its makers seem to have put in an impressive amount of effort, at least. Trouble is, all the creative gymnastics have resulted in the horror movie equivalent of a wimp who relies on steroids to lend him a fearsome appearance while his eyes still tell the truth. Like so many horror films in recent years, "V/H/S/2" appears more lightweight the more it tries to impress with its inventiveness and grotesquerie. This kind of overstuffed, overdressed flick seems calculated to shut up those who gripe that there are no original ideas in movies anymore. Busy re-inventing the wheel, they forget to create situations and people we give one damn about.
Or maybe they didn't give a damn about storytelling. Viewed as a radical experiment, a sampler of various recording media, the film almost becomes interesting. In the V/H/S films, each of which is an anthology stringing together episodes by different directors, everything we see is supposed to be raw footage from various cheap video cameras. This installment samples the textures of consumer grade DSLR's, a GoPro helmet cam (strapped to a cyclist who becomes a zombie in one segment; to a dog in another), surveillance cameras, iPhones and hi-def camcorders. Scan lines, distortions, stray pixels, blackouts, blown-out highlights and good old-fashioned TV snow all provide a kind of textural spectacle. Of course, you can get that thrill more cheaply by randomly cruising the back alleys of YouTube.
This is becoming a ritual, my directing people over to YouTube, and online streaming's endless cinema of attractions in general, instead of wasting money on theatrical films that seem far less rewarding than, say, "Girl Walk: All Day," or even the laziest of Sweet Brown remixes. It might be a natural consequence of DIY filmmakers migrating to the arthouse circuit. Some manage to hold our attention beyond a five minute upload; others simply exhaust us with their desperate gimmicks.
The only successful homage to retro, VHS-era horror is the inclusion of two distinct 1980's-style boob shots played for comical titillation. Thank you.