A Dog’s Purpose

We’ll leave controversy out of this review and talk only about the film.  If you’ve ever wondered what the purpose of life is and you love dogs, A Dog’s Purpose is the film for you.  It entwines the two in a curious story that’s filled with sweet and adorable.  Director Lasse Hallström (What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, Chocolat, The 100-Foot Journey), takes on the issue of reincarnation and attempts to explain the afterlife through the life of Bailey, as he’s born, passes and is reborn again… and again.  His incarnations are Ellie, Tino and Waffles and every time he returns he can never shake the feeling that there’s something he’s missing, that he must have a purpose other than being best friend to his new owner… something but what?

The movie opens on Bailey having just been born.  The kids will smile with glee as the screen fills with puppies to fall in love with.  We’re in 1961.  Bailey is rescued by a youngster named Ethan.  His parents let him keep the dog so he takes him home and Ethan becomes Bailey’s boy.  The pooch goes onto a wonderful life of playing catch and being loved.  Through the years we have point of view camera angles from both Bailey and Ethan which are clever and fun to observe, especially the shot from inside of the sniffing dogs’ nostrils.  As boy’s do, Ethan grows up and gets a girlfriend but Bailey is still a very important part of his life.  Bailey never goes without and is as happy as a dog can be.  How we know this is because he tells us so.  He tells us through the voice of Josh Gad.  Often cast in comedic roles, Gad was frisky animating the voice of this perplexed pup as he was as Olaf in Frozen.  He’s also a good choice because not only is he capable with humor but he can easily adjust if a dramatic moment is needed.   

The script is written to entertain adults yet efforts were made to not go over the heads of youngsters who will be drawn to the film.  The filmmakers handle the dogs passing away in a very sensitive manner.  The young children shouldn’t be hurt or too deeply concerned since the dog always returns. Taking the kids to this might be a good way to approach the subject of death with them, without the real heartbreak you get from films such as Where the Red Fern Grows or Old Yeller which were heavy on the heart.  Instead of tears for days, see this, open up a question and answer session and just like that, it’s out of the way.  It’s made clear that death brings Bailey happiness as he returns and screams with joy that he’s back.  The new puppy we see each time is a happy visual that will blanket any feeling of shock if young viewers were feel any.

As you assumed there would be there’s a nice happy ending to the movie that I won’t share.  I assure you there’s a positive message for all.  Again, this is a good movie for families to watch and enjoy together but the twenty-something’s would most likely yawn their way through which is why I didn’t rate it higher.  There are a few silly moments that were a bit too contrived but the film is one to take the kids to see this weekend.  They’ll have a blast watching Bailey fulfill his purpose which is to lick the ones he loves and to be here now

Gold

The pursuit of that bright shiny metal can drive a prospector to extremes. In “Gold”, the apparent major find in the Indonesian jungle sets off a frenzy in the lives of the people involved. That includes Kenny Wells (Matthew McConaughey) who owns a tiny mining company started by his grandfather in Reno. The company has hit upon hard times, and now the salesmen try to sell shares of dead mines that have no future. They all work out of a bar in Reno, since the office has been closed for a long time. Kenny has a girlfriend in a waitress named Kay (Bryce Dallas Howard). But Kenny still has big dreams about gold…

His dream leads him to Indonesia, where he meets Michael Acosta (Édgar Ramírez). Acosta is a geologist who once discovered the largest deposit of copper. Kenny thinks that Acosta can do the same thing for him and discover the world’s largest gold reserve. Acosta has also had a string of bad luck, but Kenny has so much enthusiasm that he convinces Acosta to try again.

 

After a few false starts, Acosta settles on a remote jungle location. Kenny has limited funds to support the exploration, but he presses on. The jungle takes a toll on Kenny, and he catches malaria and nearly dies. But when he is better, Acosta tells Kenny the good news. He has been successful in finding a large gold deposit.

The story moves back and forth between Indonesia and Reno, where Kenny has become a big shot in the mining industry. He reopens his company, and the investments are flowing in non-stop. There is a major New York hedge fund that is ready to find major investors. Barry Wolff (Corey Stoll) has Kenny and Kay come to New York where they live it up. Acosta stays at the mine delivering more good news all the time. The world’s largest mining company is ready to buy out Kenny and Acosta, but Kenny turns them down at the last minute. The gold bug has bitten him really bad…

The mining company was snubbed and wants to get even, so they convince Indonesian government to shut down the operation. That almost stops Kenny, until he finds a special partner who will get all back on track. So the operation keeps running, the bankers have been rejected.  Kenny finds out that Kay was not impressed with Kenny’s new attitude. She leaves him, and he shrugs it off.

Kenny has an interview with an FBI visitor (Toby Kebbell) who explains that everything about the mining operation is not what it seems. Kenny and his company are brought down in a crashing failure. Acosta is nowhere to be found, and the authorities want answers. Kenny is left in the lurch…

 

Matthew McConaughey really transforms himself in the role of Kenny Wells. The ‘Sexiest Man Alive’ changes to become a middle-aged, balding, pot-bellied, chain-smoking drunkard with bad teeth. He owns the role, and makes Kenny’s personality shine like a super-nova. When Kenny meets up with Michael Acosta, he persuades the geologist with his pluck and luck. Édgar Ramírez also does a fine job as Acosta, the geologist who might have lead Kenny down the Golden Path. Bryce Dallas Howard also does what she can with her role, but the focus is really on Kenny and his obsession with gold.

Is “Gold” as good as the real thing? The story is very interesting, and it is told with a great deal of style and flair. The acting is fun to watch, especially McConaughey getting into the slovenly Kenny character. But the center is not focused in any one direction, and it does tend to wander. So it never reaches pure 24 Karat quality, but is sure is shiny.

Paterson

“Paterson” is an absolute pleasure to witness.  One feels honored to be on this… ride.  I say this because it is about a bus driver whose story is delicate, even delectable.  It’s fascinating.  Jim Jarmusch turns a seemingly banal and simple life into a complex, contemplative introspective.  Paterson (Driver) drives a bus for the city of Paterson, N.J. but he’s also a poet.  His hero is William Carlos Williams and deep within he holds a dream to be as good as Williams yet never calls himself a poet, therefore stopping any disappointment that may come from negative criticism.

Paterson sees poetry in all things and one of the factors that has you treasure experiencing this life that Jarmusch has displayed for you is how you absorb Paterson’s poetry.  It’s not only spoken by him, whether in his thoughts as he cruises through traffic, or as he walks his dog Marvin (played charmingly by Nellie), but we also see it scrolling across the screen as he speaks in a composed and knowing tone.  It becomes visually embedded in our minds and we crave more.

His poems are perceptive, analytical at times, logical and illogical.  They’re both abstract and they’re ordinary but they’re sublime.  He writes these poems in a notebook, one he keeps to himself, careful they can never be seen.

We are with Paterson for a week of his life.  He has a girlfriend, has a dog and is methodized, unlike girlfriend Laura (Farahani), who is all over the place.  A painter obsessed with the color black one minute, a baker the next; him a structured poet, her a musician… this week, anyway.  The relationship is sound as they balance each other, or so it would seem… perhaps not?  Do they love each other or are they just putting up with one another for convenience sake?  Upon reflection, you realize there’s much more going on than you first thought.  It can be slow in moments but the movie consumes you, more or less.  It is, simply put, poetic.  Once you’ve seen “Paterson” it will stick with you for quite some time.  The alpha male battle he has with Marvin, also the conflict within himself over what or who he is, is gripping to observe.  Driver does such a remarkable job of bringing levels to this character without nearly uttering a word that he seduces you.  I highly recommend you see this film.  You’ll never see Driver as Kylo Ren again.

Split

I didn’t know what to expect from “Split”.  I was very nervous about it and I’m very pleased to announce it was very good.  I can’t say enough about it, in fact.  More to the point, I can’t say enough about James McAvoy’s performance.  If his talents were ever in doubt, they certainly will not be now.  His work has to have been extremely difficult, yet he made it seem completely effortless.  I’ll explain.  The trailer for this film doesn’t actually show, a nice change might I add, the fact that the main character McAvoy plays someone in such deep mental distress that he has literally shattered.  It reveals a touch of the fact that this person has split personality disorder but doesn’t give away how bad it is and to the extent that the original personality, Kevin, is controlled.  The reason for the the personality splitting is revealed but I don’t want to give away too many details.

In the film, Dennis, who is often “in the light” or the one in charge at the moment, decides to kidnap two girls he had been following.  A third is a victim of circumstance and is grabbed, as well.  She, Casey (Anya Taylor-Joy), has a past to her that is divulged in flashbacks and when Casey addresses the situation she’s in with shock but not with terror, you understand why.  You wonder what’s inside her as well and Taylor-Joy, with her large eyes that penetrate you through the screen, does a fantastic job of keeping you guessing.

 

That’s the true premise and brilliance of the film.  This is an excellent vehicle for Shyamalan to prove he’s an actors director.  Is it the perfect film?  Not by a long shot but you cannot miss these performances.  If you are into acting or performance art in any fashion, you have to study what Shyamalan has achieved, especially with McAvoy.  They work beautifully together, actor trusting director, and McAvoy gives everything he has to not only be more than one person on screen but twentry-three different personalities.  He shows, continually, that he is a magnificent actor when at one point the camera is on him and he’s one person, then it pans to a mirror and he’s another, it pans back again and he’s another and back again.  It’s fascinating.  Several times he turns these people on and off.  It’s riveting.  He is, frankly, amazing in this juicy role.   

Shyamalan couldn’t have picked better.  And that goes for the rest of the cast as well.  Everyone was quite good… except Shyamalan himself, who always likes to find a part in his movies somewhere where he can tinker with his love of the profession.  However, he makes a bad choice for himself.  He has ten acting credits to his name and has fourteen director credits.  He obviously likes to act.  In the scene he has injected himself into in “Split”, he’s not bad, per se, he’s just not at all necessary.  The scene does nothing for the film and in fact, distracts his audience from what’s exciting them up to this point. 

There are a few convenient set ups but they in no way take away from the film.  Buckley, as the therapist, is sweet and caring and shows intelligence but when she wanders where she shouldn’t have, you wish Shyamalan hadn’t gone there but that’s okay.  You’ll be on the edge of your seat, consumed by what you’re seeing.  And as I already do, you’ll be setting up a time to go and watch this movie again.

Trespass Against Us

Set in the countryside of Britain, we are introduced to the Cutler crime family which is run by Colby played by a coarse Brendan Gleeson; who, interestingly enough just played Fassbender’s son in “Assassin’s Creed.”  Colby’s reputation precedes him for a reason as he’s not a very charming fellow and not many challenge him.  The Cutler’s look like a band of misfits or perhaps something you would have spotted in a scene from the movie “Deliverance.”  Even though they have been somewhat successful criminals up to this point, they live in trailers and practically in poverty which finally hits Colby’s son Chad, (Fassbender).  Not that Colby minds what he does for a living.  He has fun when cops chase him through the streets but he’s starting to realize the impact his actions are having on his children and his wife and is struggling with a decision.  He has to break away.  His son Tyson (Smith) is starting to rebel and verbally spar with his dad, spouting exactly what Chad usually hears coming from his father Colby and this doesn’t sit well with him.  Being uneducated, Chad has allowed his father to lead him through his life.  He has always done as ordered but he sees the writing on the wall and waking up to what his and Colby’s limitations truly are, he decides he doesn’t want that for Tyson.  The police are onto his every move but when he wants to try and leave his father’s shadow, he is, too. 

Director Adam Smith, who’s more known for his work on “Doctor Who”, has had mixed reviews on the film festival circuit but having assembled an excellent cast and creating a unique blend of chaos and calm in a crazy world, I think he has a hit on his hands not matter the venue.  There’s something fascinating about Chad and his family that, as the film goes on, you almost catch… like a cold.  At first you’re not sure you have it but when you do, it really ensnares you.  Perhaps it’s the fact that Smith didn’t try to play to the American audience.  It’s authentic in that he doesn’t drop the local, incredibly thick accent, nor does he remove the British jargon that’s in use.  We are in their world.  Luckily for us, we view this world from the extremely gifted lens of Eduard Grau, (“Suffragette”, “The Awakening”, “Buried” and “A Single Man.”  He takes you incredibly deep into the story, bringing you into it by using intimate shots that make you feel like you’re peeking around a corner… hiding where you shouldn’t be; surveying where you have no business.  The scenery is beautiful so there’s no chance you’re looking away.

Shining are the performances.  Lyndsey Marshal is magnificent as Kelly, Chad’s wife, who, through it all, pulls a Tammy Wynette and stands by her man.  Fassbender, though his Chad is raging with testosterone and as tough as nails, is almost sweet at times.  The moments where he’s not fulfilling an illegal act or behaving like a hoodlum, he shows how at peace his character is with the final decision he has made.  A quite difficult one but, as Christ did, he must sacrifice himself for the sake of all of his children.  If you can get through the accents, I’d have to suggest you see this in the theatre if it’s near you but if not, see it as soon as possible, in whatever form possible.

xXx: Return of Xander Cage

Xander Cage? What, he was gone? Oh, in case you missed it, the first “xXx” movie was with Vin Diesel. But then a second was made, and his character was ‘declared dead’. The extreme athlete in the second was played by Ice Cube. But the ‘Triple X Project’ has lasted into three movies, so that is why Xander Cage is back.

The leader of the ‘Triple X Project’ is NSA Agent Gibbons (Samuel L. Jackson). His plan is to continue to recruit extreme athletes into the Project, until a satellite falls from the sky and kills him. CIA bigwig Jane Marke (Toni Collette) is then after Xander Cage to make sure he wasn’t prematurely dead so he could help the government catch the bad guys. Xander will not work with the CIA/military crew and instead he has his own crew.

 

The bad guy group has a device called ‘Pandora’s Box’. You might think that device would deliver a steady stream of music fit to your unique tastes. But, no, it is merely a complicated McGuffin thing to chase around the globe. Xiang (Donnie Yen) and his crew stole the device, but it was only a prototype McGuffin. Xiang turns out to be a former Triple X recruit, so now he is a good guy. Many different things happen in many different locations, to show that this is movie that has many places that Xander can go.

There are a few other people in the cast, but it would not make a difference if I named them all. The main draw is Vin Diesel and his gruff voice and gigantic ‘guns’. Is there a story slapped in here somewhere? Sort of, but I could not really tell. Where there action sequences? Well, there were quite a quick edits on the screen and a lot of blurry motion. So I guess that could be taken as an action sequence. Was the dialog stiff and clunky? That is a resounding yes.

 

The people who will go see this movie will like anything that Vin Diesel does. Regardless of how fast or furious he is, or if Vin is full of ‘Groot’, that would not matter in the least. They want lots of fast cars, loud guns and dumb action as its highest level.

Perhaps Shakespeare said it best, being the famous movie critic that he is: “It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

The Founder

Fast Food. Dietitians hate it, society tolerates it, but most people just love to consume it. So when you get a movie about the origins of the most popular fast food restaurant in the world, you know people will eat it up. “The Founder” will be like a satisfying meal, and will fill you up more than two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, and pickles on a sesame seed bun.

“The Founder” is the tale of Ray Kroc (Michael Keaton) and how a milk-shake machine salesman turned into a fast food titan. Ray is downtrodden and getting along with minimal sales, until learns of two brothers who run a new-fangeled restaurant that carries their last name. The McDonald brothers Mac (John Carroll Lynch) and Dick (Nick Offerman) have started something new and different. Ray wants in on the ground floor.

The brothers very reluctantly agree to Ray setting up franchise McDonald’s restaurants around the country. They have a very tight contract with Ray, and make sure that the emphasis is on quality and speed of service. Ray does great, but he does not let his wife Ethel (Laura Dern) know that he mortgaged the house to get it done. The expanding number of restaurants is not paying Ray enough, due to the tight contract details. Ray meets Harry Sonneborn (B. J. Novak), who explains that Ray should own the land and then lease it to the franchise owner.

Soon Ray has created a new company to buy land and create franchise owners. The original McDonald brothers are furious that Ray has taken liberties with their concept and product. Ray meets the wife of a new franchise owner named Joan Smith (Linda Cardellini). Before too long, Ray Kroc has bought out the McDonald brothers, divorced Ethel, and married Joan. He had become an unequaled giant in the fast food business.

Michael Keaton does a stupendous job playing Ray Kroc. Here is a story of a man who created a monster-sized business, yet he sometimes was brash, rude and uncaring. He saw what he wanted and took it, regardless if that was a burger chain or someone else’s wife. Yet he thought deep down that everything he did was to make himself, and the country, better.

As the two McDonald brothers, Nick Offerman & John Carroll Lynch also are terrific. They seems to convey and deep sense of pride in what they have accomplished, and each of them always is looking out for the other. They are also stubborn and small-minded. So when the business began to really grow, they rebelled against Ray Kroc instead of working with him.

If there are any problems at all with the movie, it is the ‘side dishes’. Other than the three main characters, the other roles are ‘undercooked’. Laura Dern has not much to do, and Linda Cardellini comes into the picture way too late. B. J. Novak blends into the other minor characters, also, so it is hard to tell him apart.

“The Founder” can also be compared in a way to ‘The Social Network”. Both feature a strong leader who finds a unique concept, and then battles two brothers for the ability to take something brand new worldwide. McDonald’s, like Facebook, is an international brand that took a visionary leader to get it there.

Patriots Day

Peter Berg, the director of films such as “Friday Night Lights,” “The Kingdom,” “Lone Survivor” and “Deepwater Horizon,” knows how to draw the truth out of a story and present it in an entertaining, authentic yet sometimes unpleasant way without pulling you too far in or out without questioning his skill and intentions.  Often taking on the challenge of telling true life events, he handles these subjects with great care.  He has proven over and over that he doesn’t exploit people and that he’s legitimate and capable and now with “Patriots Day”, he does so again. 

Here, he brings us to April of 2013 and the events that occurred at the Boston Marathon.  Sensitively, he introduces many of the characters slowly, leaving you to wonder their position in the chronicled narrative when see them pop up next.  Some characters are going to participate in the marathon and others come in and out for awhile before you are shown their role.  Two stand out right away; the bombers themselves. 

Seeing them sends you back to the day of the attack and not in a positive way.  Anger wells up from somewhere and you’re not exactly sure of what to do with it.  Everyone is set up perfectly by Berg, these two especially.  Tommy (Wahlberg) is a police officer working the Marathon, a duty that he’s given because he is working off a suspension and is now part of crowd control, something he deeply despises.  After the explosions, he steps up to help Special Agent Richard DesLauriers (Bacon) with the investigation.  Knowing Boston better than an agent from out of town, he is desperately needed in finding the perpetrators.  I’m sure anyone of the Boston police offers present could do this job but we have to make Wahlberg the hero somehow so this works.  After a command center is set up, video surveillance finds the man who leaves one of the bombs to explode where he set it and they use footage from all the stores in the area to trace is steps.  This is how they discover he didn’t act alone.

The bombings themselves are a ballet of both the cinematography of Tobias A. Schliessler, who often works with Berg, and real footage.  When the runners are rounding the finish line and the explosions occur you practically jump from your seat.  Your heart beats faster, your face turns red and your blood boils.  If you’re on the slightly emotional side, you’ll weep.  If not, you’ll at least have a massive lump in your throat to swallow down.  It’s one thing to see the footage on the news but once he introduces you to people who are about to be the victims of this horrendous act, you find yourself pushing away from the screen and wishing you could warn them to get away from the area.  In this respect he did a very good job of bringing the audience into the story.    

When the Tsarnaev brothers are cornered in a town outside of Boston, it gives Berg a chance to play with the action part of the film and we take a break from the heavy drama its been. Berg is at his best when he’s re-enacting everything from the bombings to the capture of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.  He also unveils that the Tsarnaev brothers had more than just the city of Boston in mind to terrorize.  He does take certain liberties but you desperately need him to at this juncture.  You want and need to cheer what happens to the people who are killing innocent men, women and children and would have continued had it not been for the quick responses of investigators and the Boston Police.  It feels good to see them get their man who’s now on death row. 

Overall, the film is incredibly dramatic and suspenseful, especially when Katherine Russell (Benoist), the wife of Tamerlan Tsarnaev (Melikidze), is interviewed.  Berg plays to your emotions and your sense of pride when she’s interrogated by using dialogue given by a character you wish you could be. 
This is a see at the theatre this weekend movie.  I highly recommend it.  After you do, stay seated.  You get to meet a few people through pictures and recorded interviews talking about their experiences and your chest will swell again when the reason Boston Strong was so prevalent is revealed.     

Live By Night

I love a lot of Affleck’s work.  In fact, it’s safe to say I like most of his work.  This one… not so much.  This confounds me because it’s Affleck!  He’s responsible in one way or another for “Good Will Hunting”, “Gone Baby Gone”, “Argo” and “The Town”.  Great films.  He usually has a firm grasp of story but that’s not the case here.  “Live By Night” is more or less all over the place.  To be completely honest, it doesn’t feel like his voice at all.  It can’t sit still so neither can you.  So I wonder… just went wrong?  I can indicate to you a few culprits.  It’s too slow and there are too many plot lines and both are working in concert to single handedly ruin this film.  It feels as if you’re watching a series of different films in one yet starring the same characters.  It’s a mobster/gangster picture but not.  There are moments when it is but, well, not to confuse you, these moments are few and far between.  It’s hard to even categorize this film.

I’ll try and explain the premise.  To start, in voice over, Affleck introduces his character, Joe Coughlin.  He’s a soldier.  He was miserable as a soldier.  The spoiled boy, yes it feels that way, was being told to do terrible things on the battle field and decides that being told what to do wasn’t for him.  He will forever be his own boss so he gathers two friends and they become bank robbers.  We learn that when it comes to Boston, there are two gangs it’s run by; the Irish and the Italians.  Not wanting to become involved with either, for some reason he doesn’t consider himself gangster material but is a criminal… okay, Coughlin, thinks it a good idea to become involved with the girlfriend of the head of the Irish gang, Albert White.  They even appear in public together.  Immediately, you can see that Affleck didn’t think this through. 
You know what’s going to happen and it does.  Along with a butt kicking, he gets set up and spends a few years in prison.  Now hating White, we have a revenge film where he’ll do anything to work against Albert White.  The man who said he’d never work for anyone again is working for the Italians to take over White’s rum distribution… in Florida.  We change again.  Coughlin enlists the help of the Cubans who were once stealing and instead turns them into assets, who now are happy working with him instead of against.      

There are several people trying to take him down but obstacles are easily overcome and Coughlin becomes the king of Tampa.  He also has a new woman, Graciela (Saldana), for whom he has absolutely no chemistry.  God I wanted to buy into this working for him.  It may actually be the worst part of the film.

So moving beyond that, it does, eventually, become a gangster picture again when a double-cross or two are shed and the movie gets exciting.  This is what the film had promised to be and it’s nice that it gets back to its roots but it’s not enough and it’s too little too late. 
However, what’s also good about “Live By Night”, and I’d say what makes it a worthwhile watch for anyone who wants to study good character actors are some of the performances.  Matthew Maher as a member of the KKK is outstanding.  Elle Fanning is memorable as a victim of circumstance.  Also worth mentioning is Robert Glenister as Albert White and Remo Girone as Italian leader Maso Pescatore.  When they’re on screen, you are lost in their performances.  They evoke “The Godfather” when they’re present and are quite impressive.  More of them would have improved the movie but for some reason we’re spread thinly over a few storylines and you become disinterested in everyone entirely.  So, check this out on DVD or wait for VOD, however you get your entertainment these days, but going to the theatre, my preferred outlet, is not my recommendation. 

The Bye Bye Man

“The Bye Bye Man” may as well be called The Night Night Man because watching it is probably going to put you to sleep.  There’s not much substance here and as original of an idea I had thought it was, it was a huge let down. 

In the opening scene, we go back to 1969 in Madison, Wisconsin.  We see a terrified man killing family and friends, asking them if they had told anyone his name.  Having watched the trailer, you can deduce who he’s referring to; “The Bye Bye Man.”  This sets us up for some real terror.  That was a good intro and you’re certain this will only get better.

Cut to outside of Madison.  We’re in Sun Prairie, WI (a place I once lived as a matter of fact) where some young students, Elliot (Smith), Sasha (Bonas) and John (Laviscount) are renting a big creepy house.  Who couldn’t see that coming?  Well, that’s predictable but that’s okay.  Creepy houses are the center pieces of many a fine horror flick.  Elliot and Sahsa are lovers and John is a childhood friend so they’re doing this together to better afford it.

Right away something sets off Sahsa’s distress meter but this, of course, doesn’t hit her until after the ink is dry on the lease so she enlists her friend Kim (Kanell) to perform a spiritual cleansing and also a séance to be certain the house is evil spirit free.

As can be forecast by you at this point, let’s be honest, you could write the rest of the script, Kim feels a wicked soul and no one obeys the warning signs.

There are a few good shots here like when his name is first said at the séance but for the most part, you’re never frightened in this horror film.  The Bye Bye Man himself has gone bye bye.  I think he forgot he was part of the film, actually, showing up every now and again, doing just enough to keep the director happy and to collect his check.  You want him to appear more because what you see of him early is creepy but it stops rather abruptly. 

We discover, with Elliot, that you aren’t supposed to think of him or say his name.  The more you do, the closer he gets.  Elliot becomes the sleuth for the group and tracks down who the Bye Bye Man is but is often fooled by tricks, as are the others, into thinking what’s not real, is.  There are a few scenes of the dangers they fall into by believing the visions are real but beyond that, we’re left hanging.  I’ve come to see a horror flick, not a guy running around trying to solve a case!  Regardless, he’s being driven mad by a cloaked figure with long boney fingers and scars all over his face that you barely get to see.  He’d most likely chill you to your boney fingers if they’d have concentrated more time on him and if the effects were better than those of any fan of the genre who engages in recreating a scene from their favorite horror film on their cell phones for their Twitter followers.  

The Bye Bye Man is hardly the focus and this will disappoint you highly.  Faye Dunaway was phenomenal as the widow of the man from the beginning of the film so if you’re a fan of hers maybe watch when VOD becomes available.  Please tell me she did this as a favor to someone! Anyway, this movie is just filled with too much ridiculous to recommend you watch it.  Dunaway, Smith and Cleo King are convincing with the material they’re working with but the rest of the cast, overall, are rather weak.  My final thoughts on this film are simple.  There are no scares.  There is no horror.  There’s no originality.  There’s no real reason to invest your time.