The Bye Bye Man

The Bye Bye Man

This film has the worst title for a boogeyman ever. It’s a real struggle to be scared of a villain called the Bye Bye Man. Does he wave aggressively, cling on to that hug a little longer than he should, or appear from the shadows with a cheap Slipknot mask and a CGI dog? It’s the latter… unfortunately.

Three college students move into a huge, abandoned mansion which is home to a cursed bedside table, bearing the name of the Bye Bye Man. It only takes knowledge of his title for the supernatural to appear, immediately afflicting the three students and anyone else to whom they utter his haunting moniker.

There is no backstory to the the Bye Bye Man himself, other than flashbacks to his impact a few decades previous. We know nothing about his origins or motivation and, strangely, he doesn’t actually kill anyone; instead planting visions which make those aware of his name carry out his bidding. It’s clever in a ‘I’m tired, will you cover this for me’ kind of way but somewhat nullifies his ability to plant a widespread terror.

The story sounds fairly standard for a low-budget horror but, as things move along, the producers make some really weird choices including animated wallpaper and bloodless shotgun blasts. That the film was made in late 2015 with an ‘R’ rating hints at some pretty major studio edits which definitely haven’t helped The Bye Bye Man’s chance of success.

They set it up for a sequel at the end – that feels massively optimistic. But, if you are looking to have a bit of fun with a cheesy horror, The Bye Bye Man will do the trick.

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La La Land

La La Land

I’m not a fan of musicals and I feared the worst a few minutes into La La Land when a mass dance party broke out on a Los Angeles freeway.

The film follows aspiring actress Mia (Emma Stone) as she attends countless auditions while working as a barista on the Warner Bros backlot. Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) is a jazz-revivalist who dreams of opening his own club while working for tips playing Jingle Bells in up-market restaurants.

It’s a pretty standard Hollywood love story set against the backdrop of two leads juggling their love life while chasing their dreams and showing that the struggle to get there hasn’t changed much since the classic era.  There are plenty of influences from the genre-staples of the fifties and sixties, think Singing in the Rain and An American in Paris, while more modern musical traits are also included. The singing and dancing isn’t perfect but that adds to the enjoyment and makes the musical numbers feel as natural as they can in a film as aesthetically-focused as this.

la la land

From start to finish, the movie looks incredible. Each skyline perfectly lit by pink sunsets, the characters immaculately dressed throughout and the more tired streets of LA given a fresh coat of nostalgia.

La La Land claimed seven Golden Globes last night, winning every award it was nominated for including best director, screenplay, score and song. It’s splitting audiences and critics between those who are willing to commit to two-hours of escapism and those still stuck on the 2016 trip of hating EVERYTHING for not perfectly nailing their slant on politics, history and context. For me, calling a release the best film of 2017 less than two weeks into the year seems extreme but La La Land is going take some beating.

Are you a fan of musicals? Did La La Land live up to the hype?? Let me know on Twitter or in the comments section below.

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The best of 2016… Film

best of 2016

Number One: The Witch

Set around 60 years prior to the Salem Witch Trials, the script, costume and setting are all extremely authentic to the period The Witch represents. Writer / director Robert Eggers draws influence and dialogue from original texts and balances this with a stark soundtrack, adding a real sense of dread to the surroundings

The film doesn’t focus on the panicked witch hunting we are used to – no one is put to trial, burned at the stake or dangled from a bridge. The Witch instead slow burns as the family descend into paranoia and anguish at missing children, failing crops and waning faith.

Well executed folk-horror has always been one of the most effective incarnations of the genre and it has rarely been presented as perfectly as here. Check out my full review HERE.

best of 2016

Number Two: The Nice Guys

Easily the funniest film of the year, The Nice Guys is the perfect mix of comedy and neo-noir featuring perfect performances from Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe.

Tangled into a web of confusing, seventies crime, the unlikely duo are pitched together as their confused detective work clashes on the trail of a dead porn star.

I don’t remember the last time I laughed this much at the cinema – it’s everything good about Inherent Vice and Boogie Nights rolled into a package – watching Gosling and Crowe stumble from one opportune discovery to the next had me in stitches for the full 116 minutes.

best of 2016

Number Three: Hail Caesar!

The latest film form the Coen brothers, Hail, Caesar! is an extremely funny slapstick run through classic Hollywood.

Following Hollywood ‘fixer’ Eddie Manix (Josh Brolin), as he struggles to juggle the tribulations of everything and everyone associated with his production studio, the film deals with a host of challenging characters and situations as Manix works to keep things smooth across his various productions.

At times, the plot feels like it exists purely to link the jokes and cameos but that’s never a problem – they always hit the mark. Hail, Caesar! is the Coen brothers best work for a long, long… did I say LONG(?) time.

Honourable Mentions: The Neon Demon, The Jungle Book and The Big Short.

What makes it on to your best of 2016 list? Let me know on Twitter on in the comments section below. Look out for more of my best of 2016 series coming soon…

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