Good evening, boils and ghouls!
To kick off this year’s Date Night Reviews column, Your Favorite Horror Newbie and I have decided to discuss a double feature of recently released fright flicks.
With a gift card burning a hole in my pocket since my birthday back in November, I decided it was high time to put some free movie money to use two weekends ago. My lovely wife and I were all set to see Split when…. we realized we missed the showtime we were aiming for.
Thus, a viewing of The Bye Bye Man occurred.
** SPOILERS FOR BOTH FILMS BELOW!!! BEWARE!! **
The Bye Bye Man tells the story of an urban legend about a horrific entity that can spell your doom if you even think his name. The film centers around three college students who decide to ditch the dorm life and rent a sprawling home on the outskirts of town (because, of course they do!) that just so happens to include a nightstand that has the dreaded words scrawled on it. You know, the words you aren’t supposed to think or say. Of course, someone does say and think those words and all Hell breaks loose. Well, weird stuff ensues that plays out like it does in just about every PG-13 scary movie.
Justin: It sucked that I had to do a bunch of rooting around online to find out exactly what in the Hell was going on in this film. What was up with all the train imagery? Why was there a terrible CGI demon dog? Why the hell was The Bye Bye Man doing all this stuff in the first place?!
Krystina: And what was up with the coins?! This one lacked a lot of back story. Actually, it was totally void of back story. Although I thought the movie did a good job of building up the paranoid tension between Elliot, Sasha and Jon once the Bye Bye Man grabbed hold of their minds.
Justin: Usually in movies like this, there’s that scene where everyone is huddled around a card table or bonfire and the story of the villain comes out. Or there’s a some old weirdo at the local gas station or diner who tells the story of why shit is about to hit the fan. Not here. It’s like, ‘Hey, here’s some stuff. Enjoy your popcorn!’. Not a good way to rope anyone into a film.
Justin: There were a few actors in this film worth mentioning, for different reasons. I thought Douglas Smith, who played the lead Elliot, did a really good job in the film. I felt Doug Jones was tragically wasted. Cressida Bonas, who plays the girlfriend Sasha, was one of the most robotic performances in a horror film I’ve ever seen.
Krystina: Good point on Jones. He’s one of the best character actors in the industry and all he does in this film is point and casually walk. He hardly has any screen time, either. Boo. All that was missing from Bonas’ performance was the mechanical whirring whenever she was on-screen! Carrie-Ann Moss was wasted in her role, too. She could have been a much bigger part of the movie and it would have been a lot more interesting.
Justin: The trailers made you think there was going to be a stronger focus on some sort of investigation of The Bye Bye Man, fronted by Moss, but she was hardly in the film until the very end and it all seemed rushed once she was on camera.
Justin: Probably the biggest weak spot of this movie is how it all wrapped up. I love how at the end, after Elliot seemingly stops the Bye Bye Man curse by killing himself, Elliot’s brother is just like “well, hon, you’re uncle just shot himself in the head and now we gotta go home. But it’s OK, now he’s not hurting anymore” and the little niece is like, “Ok, daddy.”
Krystina: No one thought to bust down the door and check on his ass?! They just let him die!! (laughs)
Directed by Stacy Title and written for the screen by Jonathan Penner, based on the short story ‘The Bridge To Body Island’ by Robert Damon Schneck (where you’ll find pretty much the entire Bye Bye Man back story that the film seemed to think was irrelevant for some reason), this is a film that tells you “don’t think it, don’t say it”. We kind of wish we hadn’t seen it, which is pretty evident based on our expressions of ‘Meh’ as we left he theater…
Boy, did we make up for the weak sauce that The Bye Bye Man gave us with this one! A week after seeing the film we reviewed above, we finally got to see Split and we were not disappointed.
Split is the story of Kevin (James McAvoy), a man with twenty-three very different personalities. Kevin begins to suggest to his therapist Dr. Fletcher (Betty Buckley) that there is a twenty-fourth personality waiting to reveal itself, and we aren’t going to like this one. Three innocent young women are abducted by Kevin, when ‘Dennis’ is in control of him, locked away in an unknown fortress of white brick and isolation. These women serve one simple purpose – to feed The Beast.
Krystina: McAvoy deserves award recognition for this role. He was absolutely brilliant. To be able to channel all of those personalities on-screen like that shows his acting prowess.
Justin: Anya Taylor-Joy, who plays the lead Casey Cooke, was fantastic, as well. She’s a true blossoming icon in the horror genre thanks to The VVitch and now this.
Krystina: I really liked Casey’s transformation into the heroine as the film went on. She really came into her own, especially once we found out what she had been going through from such an early age. Taylor-Joy definitely embraced and owned this role.
Justin: One of my favorite things about M. Night Shyamalan films is that there is never a shortage of great acting. Split‘s no different. I really enjoyed Buckley’s performance as Dr. Fletcher, too.
Krystina: She was a really good calming influence throughout the film, too.
Justin: The tension was ratcheted up so tightly throughout the film that you needed some calming influence! (laughs)
Krystina: Another thing I really like about Shyamalan movies is that he really builds up characters you can relate to and sympathize with. You can really feel for Kevin here. You hate him at first until you realize the demons he’s fighting internally. Each of his personalities had something you could almost like about them.
Justin: What the hell did you like about ‘Dennis’ or ‘Patricia’?! (laughs)
Krystina: I liked Patricia’s accent! It was great! And Dennis was a neat freak, which is cool. (laughs)
Justin: Yeah, a lot of serial killers tend to be freakishly neat. You worry me.. (laughs)
Krystina: Hedwig was adorable. I really liked the explanation of the transition from one personality to another, as well. It was a very unique and audience-friendly way to explain what exactly was going on inside Kevin’s head.
Justin: He had a hot dog. Et cetera. When Shyamalan is on with a film, you can tell because his really excellent films have two things going for them big time – heart and tension. There was both in this film and I think that’s a big reason why it worked so well. You can’t stand what Kevin is doing but you also really feel for him.
Krystina: What didn’t you like about the movie?
Justin: The walkie-talkie scene annoyed me. All Casey had to do was scream for help instead of casually being like, ‘Dude, I’m totally down here. Wanna come help?’. I hope that security guard got fired.
Krystina: Yeah, he gave no fucks. The ending was nuts, too. The big twist at the end totally came from left field – I wasn’t expecting that at all!
Justin: I nerdgasmed all over the theater at that last scene.
Directed by M. Night Shyamalan and currently the #1 film in America, this is one you need to see immediately. If you are a fan of films like Unbreakable and The Sixth Sense from Shyamalan’s catalog, you’re going to really enjoy this one.
We didn’t take photos of ourselves outside of the theater after this one, mostly because it was freezing out, but here’s what we think of this flick: