What makes people commit unthinkable acts of violence? The popular opinion is they are either crazy or predisposed to such conduct because of childhood conditions. The late great Flip Wilson would have said "The Devil made me do it." Director Stacy Title somehow got her hands on $11 million to adapt the last chapter of Robert Damon Schneck's book The President's Vampire: Strange-but-True Tales of the United States of America.


The book discusses a bunch of weird events including President Andrew Johnson's pardon of a murdering vampire. The last chapter of the book is titled The Bridge to Body Island and is about a ghoulish serial killer named The Bye Bye man who comes to life when three friends summon him with a Ouija board.


The recent film "Ouija: Origin of Evil" already hogged that concept for a film, so Jonathan Penner tweaked the story with the concept the Bye Bye Man could be summoned by merely mentioning or thinking of his name, much like Tony Todd's character "The Candy Man" and Michael Keaton's "Beetlejuice". But don't be mistaken, I'm using those two films as points of reference, not a comparison.

Unlike "Candy Man" director Bernard Rose or "Beetlejuice" director Tim Burton, Title didn't cast talent with a knack for the craft. Instead she apparently went to Walmart and got the blue light special actors, finding Faye Dunaway in the bargain has-been aisle. (Dunaway has made appearances before in truly awful films like "21 and a Wake Up.")


The film opens with a man running around from house to house executing his family and neighbors; probing each of them as to whom they mentioned "his" name. After they confessed, he would go kill that person until he had killed all of them. The name they uttered: The Bye Bye Man. During the slaughter, there are intermittent flashes of a train seemingly pulling up to a station.


Fast forward to present day and we find three friends - Elliot (Douglas Smith), John (Lucien Laviscount) and Sasha (Cressida Bonas) - moving into a vacant rental home as roommates. The home is in disarray with all the furniture stored in the basement. After settling in, Sasha invites her strange friend Kim (Marisa Echeverria) to come and cleanse the house of evil spirits. After the cleansing, they hold a seance and who do you think is awakened?

Things start happening including the appearance of some old coins and the discovery of writing inside the drawer of an old nightstand; the writing: "Don't Think it. Don't say it." There is no immediate explanation, however, it doesn't take long before Trina starts acting strangely; natch.


Not long after, everyone starts seeing things that aren't there and not seeing things that are there. The body count increases as Elliot scrambles to find out who and what the Bye Bye Man is and how to stop him. You've seen enough of these films to already know how it will work out!


There are so many things wrong with this film including a non-lethal looking villain and unexplained details. There is an attempt to make the Bye Bye man something like a Freddy Krueger that is an utter failure. There is another attempt to include a demon dog that is weak as water. There are attempts to borrow scare tactics from previous films that are just wasted efforts.


Probably the most annoying thing is there is never a background given to the Bye Bye Man. Where did he come from? Is he a demon, the devil, Donald Trumps baby brother? What does he get out of watching people die? Is it for revenge, power, global domination? There must be some sort of back story, yet none is presented. Moreover, the film gives us no reason to read Robert Damon Schneck's book. Ho-hum!


The acting is about what you'd expect from the bargain basement. Smith had a constant look like he was in shock that he had a job. Laviscount was merely a poser and Bonas was completely unbelievable.


"The Bye Bye Man" winds up being, as William Shakespeare might say, a bootless clay-brained death-token. The film is about as horrifying as quart of sour milk; that may be an insult to the sour milk!   -- GEOFF BURTON