Thursday, January 19, 2017

Burn, Baby, Burn

When Donald John Trump is sworn in tomorrow as th elolk[wf@∞∞¡e mfwª•–dolloc...

I'm sorry, I lost all control of my fingers there for a second. Let me take a big swig from my flask and try that again.

When Donald John Trump is sworn in tomorrow as the forty fifth President of the United States, he'll take the Oath Of Office by placing his hand on the Lincoln Inaugural BibleThe very same bible Abraham Lincoln used in his inauguration back on March 4, 1861.

The Lincoln Bible has only been used two other times— when President Obama was inaugurated in 2009 and 2013.

The burgundy, gilt-edged bible is part of the Library Of Congress' collection, and is a priceless artifact of historical significance.


Sadly, when Trump places his tiny, clawed hand on the irreplaceable heirloom, it's expected to instantly burst into flame and be reduced to ash in a matter of seconds.

Marvel's Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 4, Episode 10: The Patriot

This week on Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. we finally learn the shocking secret behind Director Mace and his ever-present metal briefcase. I didn't know he had a shocking secret, but there you go.

We also get more creepiness from AIDA 2.0 as she starts questioning her creator, Daisy returns to the S.H.I.E.L.D. fold full time, and Coulson FINALLY takes his rightful place as Director again. Well, secret Director, I guess.

Oh, and LMD May also discovers she's not what she seems. I have a feeling the rest of the season is going to be filled with Westworld-type "who's real and who's a robot?" shenanigans. 

Let's get to it!

SPOILERS!

The Plot:
Director Mace holds a sparsely-attended press conference (it's a TV budget) in Pennsylvania to officially acknowledge Quake, aka Daisy Johnson, as a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent. According to Mace, all that stuff about her being a public menace and criminal was just a cover, as she was battling the Watchdogs. Coulson and Mack are there as well, providing security. General Talbot is also at the press conference, and passes a metal briefcase to Agent Burrows, Mace's right hand man. Coulson notices this and finds it suspicious.

Just then Daisy sees a sniper on the roof, and tells everyone to get down. Mace picks up the podium and uses it as a shield (heh). The sniper shoots at Mace with a special bullet that drills into the podium and explodes. Coulson and Mack follow protocol for the situation, which means whisking Mace into a waiting Quinjet and taking him to a safe house until the situation's resolved. Daisy goes after the sniper and easily catches him.

Back at S.H.I.E.L.D. Headquarters, Simmons is upset when she finds Fitz studying AIDA's severed head (hmmm...). Talbot arrives and takes command in Mace's absence, ordering May (who's still secretly a Life Model Decoy) to interrogate the captured sniper. He turns out to be Yuri Zaikin, an ex-HYDRA agent that S.H.I.E.L.D. thought died during their attack on the Fridge a couple seasons ago (callback time!). He tells LMD May that he was only Phase 1 of the plan.

Meanwhile at Radcliffe's spacious and tastefully decorated home (how is he affording that?), he begs Fitz to let him study AIDA's head so he can figure out what went wrong. Fitz tells him "yeah no," that's not going to happen, and says he should lay low for a few weeks until things blow over. After Fitz leaves, he brags to AIDA that LMD May doesn't even know she's a robot, or that her secret mission is to steal the Darkhold. He says he needs a way to keep an eye on her (um... didn't AIDA already figure that out last week?).

Radcliffe then opens the closet and we see Real May hooked up to some sort of contraption that's keeping her in a coma-like state, while occupying her mind with virtual reality scenarios. He scolds AIDA for breaking Agent Nathonson's neck, and tells her not to kill anyone else. AIDA seems genuinely upset at this, or as upset as a supposedly emotionless android can get.

Mace, Coulson,Mack and Burrows are on their way to the safe house in the Quinjet. Suddenly the side of the jet explodes, and Burrows-- and the metal briefcase-- are sucked out. The damaged Quinjet then crashes in a forested area, killing the pilot. Coulson says someone knew Mace would be on the Quinjet, and that they're definitely gunning for him. He says then need to get away from the crash site, but Mace insists on finding Burrows' body.

Back at S.H.I.E.L.D., Simmons says they can't track the Quinjet due to some sort of interference. Talbot orders her to figure out a way to find Mace and the others. Fitz arrives, and tries to convince Simmons that the two of them could make the LMD program work (hmmm...), but she shuts him down.

At Radcliffe's house, Real May wakes up from her sedation. She breaks out of the closet and tries to escape, but AIDA catches her and lifts her up by the throat (ouch). Radcliffe walks in just in time to prevent AIDA from killing Real May, and sedates her again.

On Zephyr One, a brooding LMD May tells Daisy that she feels... off somehow. An agent tells them they've found the crash site, but that the Quinjet's not there (?).

In the forest, Coulson realizes that Mace is more concerned with finding the metal briefcase than Biurrows' body. They hear a truck approach, and see it's full of Watchdogs. They have Burrows' body, and chop off his hand to recover the metal case. Coulson, Mack and Mace move in to recover the case. Coulson and Mack take out a bunch of Watchdogs with their Icer pistols. Mace grabs the case and runs into the woods with it. He opens the case, which contains two syringes labeled "Project Patriot." He grabs one of the syringes, but before he can use it a Watchdog appears. He shoots the case, shattering both syringes. The Watchdog shoots Mace in the leg, and is about to kill him, when he's taken out by Coulson.

Simmons stumbles onto a classified file called "Project Patriot," and demands Talbot tell her what it means. He gives in and says that in an effort to build the public trust, the government wanted an enhanced person as the dnew irector of S.H.I.E.L.D. When they couldn't find one, they decided to create one. They used a version of the formula that turned Daisy's father into Mr. Hyde (another callback!) to create a super-soldier serum, and administered it to Mace. He's not really an Inhuman after all, and gets his powers from a drug.

Coulson and Mack realize that Mace has been a big phony all along. They help him to a ranger station, just as another truck full of Watchdogs arrives. They surround the station, trapping Coulson, Mack and Mace inside. Coulson tells Mace to suit up, figuring the Watchdogs probably don't know that he doesn't really have powers. Mace does so, and faces the Watchdogs unarmed. He tells him he'll trade the case for their lives, which distracts them long enough for Mack to sneak out and blow up their signal jamming truck. Mace dives back into the cabin with Coulson, and the surviving Watchdogs begin firing on them. Suddenly the Zephyr One arrives, and LMD May and Daisy take out the remaining Watchdogs. LMD May's slightly injured, but shakes it off.

Back at S.H.I.E.L.D., Fitz downloads AIDA's hard drive onto his phone (hmmm...).

Coulson's angry with Talbot for coming up with Project Patriot and lying to the public about Mace being an Inhuman. Talbot says he was just following orders, as he was told to find the next Captain America, and delivered a Patriot. Mace says he'll call a press conference and resign, and reinstate Coulson as Director. Coulson declines, saying Mace is good at what he does. He says Mace should remain the public face of S.H.I.E.L.D., while Coulson runs the organization behind the scenes.

In the locker room, LMD May examines the injury she received during her battle with the Watchdogs. Horrified, she sees a metal endosketon and wires below her skin. Daisy enters and asks if she's OK, and LMD May lies and says she's fine.

Thoughts:

• Welp, I did not see Mace's big revelation coming. I knew there was something off about him, as I never quite trusted his smarmy attitude. But I always accepted his claim that he was an Inhuman. It never occurred to me he was a normal human who got his powers out of a syringe.

There's even a further twist later, when he confronts the Watchdogs without any weapons or superpowers, proving he's really a hero after all.

• From what I've read around the interwebs, the drilling/exploding bullet fired at Mace during the press conference is very similar to Hammer Industries' "Judas Bullet," which was seen in Season 1 of Luke Cage. Apparently such a bullet was used by Diamondback to penetrate Cage's invulnerable skin.

I haven't seen Luke Cage yet (just not enough hours in the day), so I'll have to take everyone's word for it. I'm assuming this is an attempt to tie Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. in with the various Marvel Netflix shows. Could an actual crossover be far behind?

• Radcliffe's plan confuses me. He somehow captured Real May and then replaced her with an LMD, which he hopes will steal the Darkhold from S.H.I.E.L.D. HQ. He's then keeping Real May in a closet in his house, hooked up to some kind of Matrix-like virtual reality simulation, in which she's at a relaxing spa. So far, so good, I guess.

Here's the part that I don't understand: What's he going to do with Real May once he has the Darkhold? Is he planning on releasing Real May back into the wild, hoping she'll think she just had a really weird dream? Surely she'll know she didn't really spend a month in a spa.

• Speaking of Radcliffe, in this episode he tells AIDA that he wishes he had some way to keep an eye on LMD May, because "the slightest miscalculation could reveal her true nature."

Um... doesn't he already have a way to keep tabs on her? Last week in Broken Promises, AIDA 1.0 sliced open the side of LMD May's face and patched into her eyes and ears, so she could monitor everything that happened to her. I guess neither Radcliffe or AIDA 2.0 knows how to do that?

• I just noticed in this episode what an impossibly tiny waist AIDA has. Jesus, how does she not snap in half?

• This episode proves that Radcliffe isn't a total mustache-twirling villain, as he's horrified by AIDA's murderous actions, and orders her to stop with the killing.

This doesn't mean he's completely on the side of the angels though, as he's got Real May drugged and restrained inside his closet, and is using a robot double of her to steal an evil magic book so he can live forever. I guess he's a complicated villain.

• First Nathonson and now Burrows. Mace's aides are fast becoming the redshirts of Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.

• In one scene LMD May sits in Coulson's car Lola, brooding because she feels something's "off" about her. 


According to Radcliffe, LMD May is more advanced and convincing that AIDA, and isn't aware she's a robot. Fair enough. But what about normal human bodily functions? Does LMD May need to eat? Can she eat? We saw her share a bottle of booze with Coulson in the mid season finale, so I guess she can at least do that. 

What other bodily processes? Does she poop and pee? Is she programmed to ignore the fact that she never has to go to the bathroom?

Maybe that's why she feels "off!"

• At one point General Talbot gets a call from the President. Ever since Iron Man 3 (I think), Matthew Ellis has been the President in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I wonder... is the MCU getting a new Prez as well? Hopefully the citizens of the MCU elected someone more suitable for the job than we did.

• When Talbot tells Simmons the truth about Mace, she accuses him of restarting the Erskine Program.

This is a reference to Captain America: The First Avenger, in which Dr. Abraham Erskine created the Super Soldier Serum for the U.S. Army. It's the serum that turned Steve Rogers into Captain America.

Talbot then says they actually adapted the serum created by Calvin Zabo (aka Mr. Hyde), back in Season 2. FitzSimmons are aghast by this news, but Talbot reassures them, saying, "We're not idiots. We took the bad stuff out. Most of it anyway."

Hmm. Could we end up seeing Mace "Hulk out," the way Mr. Hyde did?


• Product Placement Alert! Gosh, I wonder who provides the computers for this show...? You'd think a top secret, high-tech government agency like S.H.I.E.L.D. would use their own proprietary computer systems, but I guess not.

• It's always good to see Coulson's holographic shield.

• I think I mentioned it when Mace first appeared, but there's actually a version of him in the comics. Jeffrey Mace started out as a reporter in WWII, and became a superhero called the Patriot after seeing Captain America in action. 

After the Steve Rogers disappeared, the government recruited William Naslund to be the second Captain America. When he was killed (saving the life of JFK!), Mace became the third Captain America. He served as Cap from WWII well into the Cold War era.

Comic book Mace had no actual superpowers though, and didn't take any sort of Super Soldier serum.

• All through the episode, Fitz keeps obsessing with AIDA. Even after Simmons tells him to stop, he just can't seem to leave AIDA's severed head alone. In fact he goes so far as to download her program into his phone. He must have a hell of a big SD card in that thing!

I'm calling it now I think Fitz is secretly a Life Model Decoy, just like LMD May! Ever since Fitz found out about AIDA, he's been visiting Radcliffe at his house to chat and watch "football matches." Radcliffe's had plenty of opportunities to knock him out and replace him with a duplicate.

This would help explain Fitz's sudden fascination with AIDA, although I don't think we've seen him try and find the Darkhold yet.

• Any time General Talbot appears, you know there's gonna be some fun lines:
Talbot: "Agent May, with the possible exception of my mother, you are the single most intimidating woman I have ever met."

Talbot: (talking about his ex-HYDRA prisoner) "I'm going to squeeze our prisoner like a lime wedge on dollar beer night."

Talbot: (referring to the suggestion that Daisy) "I don't trust Little Miss Richter Scale to handle it herself."

Simmons: (referring to Coulson, Mack & Mace) "So even if they survived the crash, they could be stranded in the wilderness, on the run from a band of ex-Hydra thugs, unaware that their enhanced asset is a charlatan."
Talbot: "No need to be melodramatic, Poppins, but yeah, that's it." 
(I almost did a spit take when Talbot called Simmons "Poppins")

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Things That Happened On Earth This Week: 1/18/17

DATELINE: VANCOUVER, B.C. 

This week Mengfa International, which is apparently some sort of business concern in Canada, sued the Vancouver Building Council for refusing to let them build a Moby Dick's seafood restaurant. When Mengfa asked why their permit was denied, the Council claimed that the name "Moby Dick" is offensive.

Jesus wept. 

The Council also went on to say that opening a restaurant called Moby Dick would "hurt the value of neighboring properties, and that the restaurant would bring increased litter and violate city laws on odor."

So not only are there no readers on the Vancouver Building Council, but the members are all bath*t insane as well.

The restaurant of course is named after the 1851 novel by Herman Melville, which tells the tale of Captain Ahab, a seaman who's obsessed with finding and killing the great white whale which cost him his leg. The book ends with– SPOILER ALERT FOR A 166 YEAR OLD NOVEL– the narrator Ishmael floating on a coffin in the middle of the ocean after Moby Dick destroys the whaling ship and kills everyone aboard.

In light of the Council's ruling, Mengfa has reportedly decided to open a different restaurant called "C*nt Burger."

----------------------------------------------------------------------------

DATELINE: VENEZUELA 

This week a woman was caught trying to sneak her boyfriend out of the Puente Ayala Prison in Vebezuela
— in a suitcase!

Antonieta Robles Souda visited her boyfriend José Antonio Anzoátegui, who was serving a nine year sentence for car theft. She brought a large pink suitcase with her, which amazingly didn't arouse suspicion among the prison staff. Apparently overnight stays by family members are SOP in this particular prison (!), so no one thought anything about it.

It wasn't until the tiny woman was seen struggling with the suitcase the next morning that guards began to think something might be amiss. They ordered her to open the suitcase and discovered her boyfriend stuffed inside. Impressive! 

If nothing else, I gotta give them props for sheer chutzpah and ingenuity. 

Sadly, there's no way in hell this trick could ever be tried in 'Murica. Unless you had a six foot square suitcase, maybe.

This isn't the first time José and Antonieta have had a brush with the law. Several years ago Antonieta and José tried the old "sit on one person's shoulders while wearing a hat and a long trench coat" trick to enter a local cineplex with just one paid ticket.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------

DATELINE: AMERICA 
This week a Redditor user claimed that his new pair of workboots, made by the Polar Fox company, left swastika-shaped footprints wherever he walked.

Sigh... this again? Two or three times a year some fidgety worrywart goes ballistic because they start seeing swastikas where there are n 

Holy crap, those are swastikas. Jesus Christ, they're perfect too. How the hell did this get through this company's quality control department?

Polar Fox has since recalled the boots, and the company's large, chubby, mustachioed spokesman held a press conference where he simply stated, "I see nuhsink! Nuhsink!"

----------------------------------------------------------------------------

DATELINE: LAS VEGAS, NEVADA 
This week at CES, an annual convention spotlighting technology and gadgets, the Spartan Underwear company debuted their new radiation-proof boxers.

The underwear contains a blend of silver fibers and cotton, which supposedly blocks 99% of the radiation from mobile phones and wi-fi signals. That's right it's a goddamned Farady Cage for your junk!

Best of all, Spartan boxers are designed in Paris "for an exceptional fit and amazing design." Ooh la lah! Élégant et sans rayonnement!

My favorite feature of Spartan boxers is that they're seamless, orderless and CONfortable. Who needs proofreaders?

Of course there's no concrete evidence that cell phone radiation or wi-fi signals are in any way dangerous, but when has that ever stopped companies from taking advantage of an uninformed and jittery clientele?

Spartan boxers sell for just $44.49 per pair, which seems pretty pricey where I'm from. Maybe if you're that worried about your phone shriveling up your family jewels, you should, oh, I don't know, maybe stop shoving it into your pocket next to your genitals.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------

DATELINE: NEW YORK, NEW YORK 
This week a new Harry Potter-themed restaurant opened in New York City's Lower East Side. The eatery, called Pasta Wiz, promises patrons a variety of magical-themed dishes, guaranteed to arrive at your table a mere five minutes after you order. So you just know it's gotta be good, right?

Um, note to the owner of this establishment: I know you've already spent thousands for your various permits and your sign and menus, but you need to ditch that name PRONTO. Nobody wants to eat at a place with "wiz" in its name. Trust me on this. Maybe "Pasta Wizard" would have been a better choice.

Expectorate pastorum!

----------------------------------------------------------------------------

DATELINE: BEVERLY HILLS, CALIFORNIA 
This week at the 74th Golden Globes Awards, director JJ Abrams announced that he's "done with reboots."
Ah. So I guess that means he's retiring then. BURRRRRRN!

See, of the five major theatrical movies Abrams has directed (Mission: Impossible III, Star Trek, Super 8, Star Trek Into Darkness and Star Wars: The Force Awakens), only one Super 8 has NOT been a remake or reboot. And even then, it was pretty much a pastiche of nearly every film Steven Spielberg ever made.

And yes, that's a photo of JJ Abrams oh-so-subtly flipping us all off.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------

DATELINE: WASHINGTON D.C. 
This week in Washington, Betsy DeVos, President-elect Trump's pick for Education Secretary, appeared before at a Senate Confirmation hearing.

When Senator Chris Murphy asked DeVos if she thinks guns should be allowed on school premises, she replied that the decision should be left up to local lawmakers. DeVos explained that certain schools such as in Wyoming might need guns to protect students from grizzly bears (!). 

"I would imagine there's a gun in the school to protect from potential grizzlies," said DeVos.

Reporters contacted Angie Page, assistant to the superintendent of Wapiti Elementary School in Wyoming, and asked if they indeed had a grizzly gun on the premises. "No, we do not," was Page's succinct and curt reply.

Devos went on to say she thinks our outposts on other moons should also be armed with blasters and other such weapons, to help keep the terrible, terrible Colossal Titans from scaling the Outer Wall...

It Came From The Cineplex: The Bye Bye Man

Hey guys, it's finally here! It's The January/February Film Dumping Ground! Yes, it's that magical time of the year when the major studios burn off all the celluloid bombs they didn't dare release during the all-important Summer and Xmas blockbuster seasons! Awesome! Brace yourselves for two solid months of watered-down PG-13 horror films, cheap CGI kid's movies and fart comedies. It's a fantastic time to be a film fan!

The Bye Bye Man was written by Jonathan Penner, and directed by Stacy Title.

Penner has worked primarily as an actor, and previously wrote Let The Devil Wear Black in 1999. Hey Jonathan, don't quit your day job! Stick with the acting!

Title previously directed The Last Supper, the aforementioned Let The Devil Wear Black and Hood Of Horror (which I assume is some sort of urban fright film, and not about a haunted hoodie). Oddly enough, Stacy Title is married to writer Johnathan Penner. Gee, I wonder how she got this gig...

The movie is based on The Bridge To Body Island, a chapter in Robert Damon Schneck's The President's Vampire, which is a collection of allegedly true supernatural stories. Yep, that's right– the producers of this film want us to think this movie's based on a true story. I have absolutely no problem believing this. There's no doubt in my mind that it's true this movie was based on a story.

The Bye Bye Man is the latest in a long ling of tepid PG-13 "horror" films that have littered the cineplex for the past couple of decades. Sadly, like its predecessors, this one is violent yet conspicuously gore-free, and is about as scary as a basket of kittens.


You can practically feel the filmmakers straining here as they desperately try to create a new horror movie icon like Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees or Michael Myers. Unfortunately I don't see the Bye Bye Man joining the Slasher Pantheon any time soon. He's strictly a one-and-done movie monster.

A good horror icon needs one or more of the following qualities: A sadistic personality (think Freddy Krueger), an interesting backstory (Freddy again, Michael Myers), a distinctive weapon (Freddy yet again, Jason Voorhees) or a memorable appearance (Freddy, Jason, Pinhead).

The Bye Bye Man has NONE of those. His appearance is bland, as he looks like a generic, pasty-faced ghoul. He has no backstory at all, springing up with no explanation. He doesn't even use a weapon! Worst of all, he has absolutely no personality to speak of. He never utters a word or even a moan all through the movie. Not even so much as an awful Freddy-style pun!

The only thing the Bye Bye Man ever does is appear out of the shadows and walk menacingly toward his victims as his slender, bony finger points straight at them. Really, that's it? He doesn't disembowel teens with a razor-fingered glove, or dismember co-rds with a machete? He just silently points? Wow, that is terrifying!

The biggest problem with this movie is its muddled mythology. Horror films need to lay down a set of easy to understand rules, so the audience knows what the characters need to do in order to defeat the monster. The Nightmare On Elm Street movies all had a simple set of such laws— Freddy Krueger's a demon who haunts your dreams and if he kills you, you die in the real world.

The Bye Bye Man tries to set up a few guidelines, but fails miserably. We're told that simply thinking about the Bye Bye Man makes him stronger, but this rule's applied very inconsistently and sometimes not at all. He's also fond of tossing gold coins on the floor for reasons that are never explained, and there's some sort of locomotive imagery that surrounds him as well, for god knows what reason. Oh, and he has a hell hound that follows him around, but all it does is eat people's faces after they're already dead. Unfortunately NONE of these odd and disparate elements are ever adequately explained in the film. I cannot emphasize this enoughNOTHING about him is explained.

Supposedly the Bye Bye Man is responsible for "all the unspeakable acts in the world," but once again, we never actually see this. All we get are a trio of college students squabbling with one another, and a couple of off screen murders. Why not throw in a few news reports about mass murders in the area, implying that the monster's influence is spreading throughout the city?

With a bit of work, this could have been a neat little psychological thriller. The Bye Bye Man's preferred method is to cause his victims to hallucinate until they go crazy and kill themselves. Wouldn't it have been infinitely more effective if he took a victim's greatest fear, amplified it and used it against them? The movie very lightly touches on this angle, but again it never adequately explores it, because it would have required some actual writing skill.

Credit where credit's due: the opening sequence is very well done, giving the audience the impression they're in for a riveting and terrifying movie experience. Sadly our hopes are dashed once the scene's over, and the regularly-scheduled bland-as-dishwater main storyline begins.


Why do studios keep pumping out these watered down, scare-free PG-13 snore-er films year after year after year? That's easy— money! 

Despite the fact that critics hate 'em, "horror" movies like this almost always make money, because they're filmed so cheaply. The Bye Bye Man's budget was a scant $7.4 million, which is probably less than they spent for donuts on a film like Batman V. Superman. It grossed $16 million in its first week, so it's already broken even and guaranteed to make a small profit. Against all logic and reason, it would not surprise me if we see The Bye Bye Man 2: Even Bye-ier in a couple years.

The studios are never gonna stop making these movies until the public stops going to see them. It's all up to you, people!

SPOILERS, I GUESS!

The Plot:

Please excuse the choppy nature of this truncated plot synopsis. Part of it's due to the murky, muddled storyline, and part's due to the fact that the movie's already started to fade from my brain, hours after I saw it.

The film starts out promisingly, with a flashback to 1969 Wisconsin, where a shotgun-toting reporter Larry Redman enters a home and demands to know if the terrified residents "told anyone the name." Despite their horrified denials, the man brutally executes them (in the most bloodless, PG-13 manner possible), and then goes after the terrified family across the street. 
Unfortunately the film immediately goes downhill the minute this sequence ends.

Cut to the present, where three college students— straight-laced Elliot, his girlfriend Sasha and his best friend John (a smooth-talkin' ladies man)— decide to move off campus to concentrate on their studies (riiiight), and rent an impossibly spacious old house.

The house turns out to be a fixer-upper, so Sasha remodels it, by making lamp shades out of generic brand chicken buckets. I guess that's a visual cue that she's the "quirky" one of the bunch. A few days later, Elliot's brother Virgil and his cute daughter Alice stop by and give the trio a house-warming gift. Alice wanders around the house and into Elliot and Sasha's bedroom, where she finds a gold coin on the floor. She considers taking it, but places it back on an old nightstand that Sasha hauled up from the basement. 


Things go along smoothly for a while, until doors start opening by themselves and more gold coins start dropping onto the floor out of the nightstand. You know, if I had a magic nightstand that dispensed gold coins, I wouldn't worry about whether it was haunted or not. I'd just collect 'em and make a trip to the bank once a week. But I digress...

Elliot opens the drawer of the nightstand, and sees the words "Don't say it. Don't think it" scrawled over and over on the inside. As he examines the drawer, he sees it has a false bottom, and like an idiot lifts it out. The real bottom of the drawer is carved with the name, "The Bye Bye Man." Say, that'd make a good title. Well, not a good title, mind you, but A title. Elliot mentions the name to Sasha and John, but they have no idea what it means either.

The spookiness escalates after that, causing Sasha to call in her supernaturally "sensitive" friend Kim to come in and cleanse the house of evil spirits. Amazingly, Kim turns out to be the real deal, as she rattles off facts about Elliot she couldn't possibly know. She cuts the seance or cleansing or whatever it is short though, when she senses an evil presence that's coming for them all. Elliot realizes she's talking about the Bye Bye Man.

Immediately after Kim's cleansing, the three friends begin begin acting strangely and hallucinating (or do they?). Sasha develops a nagging cough in a little subplot that seems like it's going to lead to something, but ends up going nowhere. John hooks up with Kim for a one night stand, then thinks he sees maggots in her hair and practically shoves her out of his Mustang. And Elliot begins suspecting platonic friends Sasha and John are secretly fooling around behind his back. 


Elliot also begins seeing the Bye Bye Man, who appears as a spectral, ghoul-faced figure in a black hood, accompanied by some sort of poorly-animated hellhound. The Bye Bye Man creeps out of shadows and emerges from coats hung on racks, in one of the very few genuinely creepy moments of the film. Naturally no one else ever sees these ghostly intruders.

The next day Elliot goes to the school library to do some generic internet searching (I guess they couldn't afford Google's licensing fee) on the Bye Bye Man. Couldn't he have done that at home? Does their ridiculously roomy home not have an internet connection?


Anyhoo, he doesn't find anything online, so he enlists the help of Mrs. Watkins, the world's most helpful librarian. They go through the physical records, and discover one lone report of the 1969 Larry Redman incident, in which the name "The Bye Bye Man" is mentioned several times. Unfortunately seeing and hearing the name is enough to infect poor Mrs. Watkins as well.

Elliot goes to see Kim, and finds she's also been infected by this supernatural "virus." She claims she's been seeing disturbing hallucinations, and unbeknownst to Elliot, has killed her roommate. They go for a drive and Kim thinks she sees a family hurt in a car wreck, and demands Elliot stop so they can help. Despite the fact that she knows she's prone to seeing visions, she still runs right toward the suspiciously pitiful family and into the path of an oncoming train. Splat!

Every police car, firetruck and ambulance in Wisconsin then shows up at the scene of this small accident. Poor Carrie-Anne Moss enters the movie for some reason, playing Police Detective Shaw, the world's most sympathetic, yet hard-nosed cop. She questions Elliot and says witnesses saw him chase Kim into the path of the train, and that he's in big trouble unless he tells her what's really going on. He refuses to mention the Bye Bye Man to her in order to keep her from becoming infected.

Fortunately for Elliot, he's released after police discover Kim left a suicide note stating she killed her roommate and was planning on killing Elliot and his friends as well. That sounds more like a confession that a suicide note to me, but let's just roll with it.


Elliot then discovers Larry Redman's wife is still still alive, and pays her a visit. For some reason the Widow Redman is played by screen legend Faye Dunaway, who must have needed a new yacht payment or something. In a completely pointless scene, Elliot asks her what she knows, and she tells him the only reason she's still alive is because her husband never told her the name of you know who. Yeah, Widow Redman, we kind of figured that out for ourselves.

Dejected, Elliot goes home and hallucinates Sasha and John messing around in bed. He beans John in the head with a baseball bat, which somehow miraculously doesn't kill him. He gets a call from Mrs. Watkins, who says she's been having weird visions and wants to talk with him. Unknown to him, the Bye Bye Man has caused Mrs. Watkins to kill her entire family. As Elliot speeds to her house, he runs down Mrs. Watkins, who's wandering down the road for some reason. His car flips and he crawls from the wreckage and staggers down the road.

Elliot realizes how to beat the Bye Bye Man
— by ignoring the hallucinations he causes. I guess that might work, but what if something you think is a vision turns out to be real?

Meanwhile back at the house, everyone's having hallucinations. Sasha thinks John is Elliot, and John sees Sasha as the decayed corpse of Kim. Elliot enters the house just in time to see John stabbing Sasha with a pair of scissors, while the Bye Bye Man looks on. He tackles John and kills him, but is then horrified when he snaps out of it realizes it was actually Sasha who was killing John, meaning he just killed his own girlfriend. 

The house then erupts into flames for some reason. Just then, Virgil and Alice pull up and see the blazing house. Virgil tries to save Elliot, but the flames are too intense. It doesn't really matter, as Elliot shoots himself in the head to end the Bye Bye Man's curse.


Later after the fire's out, Virgil and Alice drive away. Alice reveals she found a couple of gold coins in the drawer of the old nightstand that was in Elliot's trash. In the movie;'s final flailing attempt to scare us, she says she saw writing inside the drawer (GASP!) but couldn't read it (Phew!).

Detective Shaw arrives at the scene and tells a fellow cop that there's more to this case than meets the eye. We then see John's somehow still alive and trying to talk. Shaw bends down and places her ear inches above his mouth, as he whispers something to her.


The End. Or IS it?

Thoughts:
• The film's unfortunate PG-13 rating really shows in the opening sequence. When Larry Redman goes on his 1969 killing rampage, he shoots a neighbor with a shotgun at near point blank range. She's knocked backward into the wall and slumps to the floor, leaving a small, softball-sized and completely bloodless dent in the drywall behind her. I have a feeling an attack like that would leave a bit more of a mess in reality.

• By far the most unrealistic thing about this movie wasn't the supernatural demon whose very name can affect a person's mind, but the GIGANTIC house that Elliot and his friends can somehow afford. 

Seriously, his bedroom was almost the size of my entire home! I guess the real estate market's very affordable in Wisconsin.

• About that tag line on the poster: "Don't think it. Don't say it."

More like, "Don't watch it. Don't see it," amirite? Eh? EH? 

• British singer/actor Lucien Laviscount plays Elliot's best friend John in the film. Apparently the director was mightily impressed with Laviscount's muscly physique, because she has him strip off his clothes as often as possible. Even when it doesn't make any sense story-wise, he struts around sans clothing.

• So the Bye Bye Man gets power from his victims whenever they say his name or think about him, right? The more they think about him, the more powerful he becomes.

He also causes them to hallucinate, to the point where they start killing other people. Eventually they're driven mad and kill themselves.

I dunno... it seems counterproductive to his plan to make his victims commit suicide. If they're dead, they can't think about him, right?

I guess he survives by dealing in volume. He infects a person and then they end up infecting countless others before they die.

Now that I think about it, that's pretty much how a virus works. It needs a host to replicate itself, but often ends up killing it. It has to rely on the host infecting others to perpetuate itself.

• The director must have reeeeeeally liked The Shining. The hallways in the house look almost exactly like the ones in the Overlook Hotel. Any second I expected to see a pair of twin girls at the end of the hall saying, "Come play with us, Danny!"

The "Don't say it, don't think it" mantra scrawled inside the drawer (and everything else) also echoed Jack Torrance's "All work and no play make Jack a dull boy."

• Whenever we see the Bye Bye Man, he's always accompanied by some sort of hell hound. The creature had an interesting design, but seemed completely out of place in the world of the movie. Plus it didn't help that it looked like it stepped out of a 1990s video game.

The filmmakers insist the hell hound was a real dog wearing some sort of monster suit, but I don't believe that for a minute. It looked and moved exactly like bad CGI.

• Speaking of the hell hound... the students' house features wallpaper with what appears to be a hunting motif, complete with dogs flushing birds from the grass. At one point one of these printed dogs turns to the camera, and its head morphs into what I think is supposed to be that of the hell hound.


Note that the Bye Bye Man supposedly only has power to control the minds of his victims, not alter reality itself. No one's looking at the wallpaper when it morphs, so how the hell is it happening? Apparently he has the ability to animate wallpaper patterns just for fun? Handy!

• After Kim's run over by a train, we see a couple of ambulance workers carrying her away on a covered stretcher. I actually chuckled at that scene, because it looked like a completely intact body under the sheet. Train vs. Pedestrian accidents usually don't leave that many remains.

• After Elliot figures out that the Bye Bye Man gets stronger the more you think about him, he tries to distract himself with music. The song he picks? Bye Bye Love of course. No, really. I'm not kidding. There's a demon trying to kill him, and he picks a song with two thirds of its name in the title.

I get it now! Elliot is an idiot!

• I assume the Bye Bye Man's ghoulish appearance is supposed to be terrifying, but unfortunately he ends up looking a LOT like Brain Guy from MST3K.

The Bye Bye Man is of course played by genre favorite Doug Jones. Jones is an incredibly tall and impossibly thin actor, who's racked up over a hundred and fifty film credits over the years— usually as some sort of creature. He's Hollywood's goto guy whenever they need someone to play a willowy and lanky monster.

God forbid Jones ever gains a couple pounds, as his career would instantly be over.

• Once you realize how the Bye Bye Man operates, he seems like he'd be fairly easy to beat. He works by conjuring up hallucinations in your mind, right? So once you start noticing you're seeing bizarre things, shouldn't you be inherently suspicious of them, and maybe somehow check to be sure they're really happening?

• Carrie-Anne Moss plays a tough as nails cop (or at least tries to), who kind of investigates the case. At the very END of the movie, she stands in front of the burning house full of murdered students and tells a fellow cop that "There's more to this case than it appears!" and vows to get to the bottom of it. 

Um... wouldn't it have been a good idea to have said that maybe halfway through the picture, instead of thirty seconds before the credits roll?

• During the end credits, the movie proudly proclaims it was filmed on location in Cleveland, Ohio. I'm not sure I'd tell brag about that if I was the producer (Sorry, Clevelandites!).


The Bye Bye Man could have been an effective little horror film if only it had a better script, adequate actors and a more competent director. It tries to set up a new horror icon ala Freddy Krueger, but fails spectacularly. Nothing about its mythology is ever adequately explained, resulting in a muddled and incoherent mess. Say "bye bye" to this movie and re-watch Nightmare On Elm Street again instead. I give it the first D+ of the year! Congratulations!

Related Posts with Thumbnails
 
Site Meter