In the new film, The Bye Bye Man, three friends who rent a house together on the outskirts of their college campus begin to notice strange events occurring after they find an old coin in a nightstand left by the previous owners. At first it seems that the kids are just experiencing the normal grievances that young people sometimes go through, including getting jealous, feeling resentment towards their new roommates, and catching a common cold, but as times goes on, it becomes clear that something sinister is at play, and the causation of their problems may not lie in what is messing with them, but rather, with who. They not supposed to think it, They’re not supposed to say it, but they are only human, and soon, The Bye Bye Man will come for them all.
On Tuesday, January 10th, I was given the opportunity to go one on one with The Bye Bye Man in a multi sensory horror room experience, held in downtown Los Angeles at The Basement Escape Room which was transformed to look and feel just like the movie. Forced to go into a dark room alone, I was then shown the secrets of The Bye Bye Man by a crazed Elliot, who muttered “Don’t think it, don’t say it” to himself over and over as he dragged me around the room and forced me to look at hysterical drawings and footage of a man driven insane by the very same culprit. You can watch me be terrified in the video below.
After the experience was through, and I nearly escaped through my life (the actors all had a good laugh at how hard I barricaded the door as one of the girls tried to pound her way in to my little bathroom of solitude) I sat down with the director of the film, Stacy Title, producer Trevor Macy, and the Eliot himself, star Douglas Smith. In the interview they told me all about who The Bye Bye Man is, including what his powers entail, where he comes from, and how he digs a hole into his his victims’ brains through psychological torment and forces them to do his bidding.
Apparently, producer Trevor Macy was the one who originated the idea of The Bye Bye Man, as he was inspired by a chapter called “Spotted Island” in a horror anthology novel he read titled The President’s Vampire. According to Macy, it wasn’t just the chapter itself that intrigued him, but the message that preceded the chapter, in particular.
“I was so compelled by the warning in front of this chapter which said if you are particularly skittish, or if you are perceptible to ideas that won’t leave your head, don’t read this” remembers Macy. “I loved the idea of a villain and how he acts a beacon, and he comes to you and he’ll just mess with whatever’s already inside your head. That’s all he needs”.
“The Bye Bye Man is a modern and terrifying and disturbing Boogeyman that I hope can join the ranks of some of the others” says director Stacy Title proudly. “The thing is, he’s very different because he works on you on a psychological level. He gets into your head. You learn his name and he’s telepathic and he knows and he comes closer and you can’t stop thinking about him and the more you think about him the closer he gets. He knows what would scare you and he shows that to you, so in a way, your own mind is working against you and you go crazy. He possesses your mind and makes you do terrible things”.
Whenever The Bye Bye Man is near, his presence becomes clear to whomever he is currently tormenting because they hear the sound of a loud booming train heading their way. Although the cacophony of noise is so overwhelming to the person The Bye Bye Man is hunting that they have to hold their hands over their ears to shield themselves from the screeching of the train’s whistle, it is not audible to anyone else around them. According to Title, there’s a strong reason for the inclusion of the train in the Bye Bye Man’s intricate folklore.
“In terms of the origin of The Bye Bye Man, he was basically an orphaned kid that was tortured back in the day. He got put on a train when he was murdered, and that’s why he comes back to you on the train, and he seeks revenge because he was wronged so deeply”.
Although he’s been called the next Candyman, and some have made comparisons to Freddy Krueger and The Babadook, director Title says their villain is different because the only weapon he needs is the person he’s torturing at any given moment.
“He feeds on your psychological pain, he feeds on the things that you do that cause you pain. So he doesn’t have to like stick a knife in you, he doesn’t have to physically torture you, he tortures you because he makes you do things or see things that upset you, specifically” says Title of her special Boogeyman. “If you’re paranoid, you’re going to be paranoid. If you’re an angry person or you have a temper, you’ll go in that direction. He knows that if you’re jealous he’ll make you be more jealous he’s just really really specific”.
“I think we’re different from that in that the way the villain works is different. In a sense, the only weapon the Bye Bye Man needs is you” states producer Macy. “So he’s different from Jason, he’s different from Freddy, he’s different from Michael Myers. He’s gonna come for you and find what the worst possible thing is. If you’re scared of spiders, he ain’t gonna give you snakes”.
“It’s not like a crazy possession or anything, it’s more like a worm that burrows deeper and deeper into your head” explains lead actor Douglas Smith. “I kept thinking of it like if mental illness was contactable. People should be very supportive of friends and relatives who have a mental illness, but what if it was something you could catch? To me that’s the level of the fear. Like imagine if schizophrenia was contagious. Like can you imagine how terrifying that would be?”
Keeper of coins, runner of trains, and insinuator of insanity, The Bye Bye Man is all this and more, and he’s coming for everyone when he hits theaters everywhere this Friday the 13th. Make sure to see the film The Bye Bye Man when it lands on the big screen this weekend, and check out the video below to see my escape room experience with the Boogeyman himself, below.