Currently playing in UK and US cinemas is the psychological horror movie, Smile. The film stars Sosie Bacon, Kyle Gallner, Jessie T. Usher, and Kal Penn, and follows the story of a young woman who is haunted by a supernatural presence.
In the movie, Dr. Rose Cotter is a therapist working in the psychiatric department at the local hospital. Rose is good at her job, and respected, but is constantly overworked.
During one of her shifts, Rose meets recently admitted patient, Laura, who appears to be suffering mental health issues. Laura claims that ever since she witnessed a tragic and disturbing suicide, she has been followed by a menacing entity, which appears to her in different guises, and occasionally in the form of the deceased.
As Rose listens to Laura, it becomes clear she is not well. Things then escalate further when Laura collapses on the floor, before committing suicide by cutting her own throat.
The incident has a deep impact on Rose, and that evening as she attempts to unwind, she believes she sees Laura in her home, appearing in the shadows as a ghostly apparition. Over the next few days, Rose comes to see other strange phenomena which disturbs her greatly and puts her on edge.
But is Rose really seeing things or is she overworked and struggling with her own sanity? And if something supernatural is now stalking her, is there a way to escape this nightmare?
Written and directed by Parker Finn, Smile is an intriguing and at times quite captivating horror movie. The film looks at issues surrounding mental health and trauma, and presents a story which has plenty of depth, along with a great deal of darkness.
The central focus of the movie is on Rose and her experiences with something sinister. This unnatural encounter kick-starts a journey which is both unsettling and rather bleak, and it uses the concept of the supernatural to create discussions about unresolved experiences and how they can impact someone’s mental state.
Some of these discussions are surface level, but the film does make efforts to dig a little deeper and create a reflection of what it is like for a person suffering with their inner demons. Smile is clearly pieced together by someone who has a grasp on its core ideas, and this means it not only plays out rather strongly, it also feels at times quite authentic.
It’s not perfect though, and does suffer from an over reliance on jump scares, often at the expense of other ways to terrorise the audience. Those who have watched their fair share of horror movies will also find certain scenes quite predictable, and it does share one or two similarities with the 2014 horror, It Follows.
However, those issues aside, Smile is a strong movie and one which has something to say. It benefits from a good performance from lead star, Sosie Bacon, and this really helps to sell its ideas.
In terms of its presentation, Smile is designed to unnerve and disturb and it achieves this without too many problems. The film’s sombre tone, as well as its dark and ominous imagery, does a great deal of the leg work and this means it creates the right backdrop for its story.
This story is then told at a decent pace, without rushing to get to the good stuff. Smile is a bit of a slow burn, which may put some people off, but it never becomes a slog or outstays its welcome, and delivers exactly what it needs to, when it needs to.
It also finds a way to take something as innocent and joyous as a smile, and use it to become a symbol of terror. This film is at its creepiest when it features characters flashing their gnashers, and after you watch the movie, you may not look at a happy person in the same way.
Although this is arguably the point of the film – to show that smiles can hide sadness and horror. Once again, this film does have some important issues to say, and it definitely gets its point across.
If I have anything negative to say, it really is about all those jump scares, which do become a little tiresome, but this is mostly because they are quite predictable. The film has a habit of becoming rather quiet before cranking up the volume for a quick scare, and this pattern is easy to spot and it wears out its welcome very early on.
This pattern is also used in many, many, other horror films, so I would have liked Smile to try out something different or original here. However, this is generally par for the course when it comes to horror films (especially these days), so I’m not going to beat on it too much.
Smile is largely good and it delivers a story with a bit of grit and a lot of substance. Minor problems aside, it is one to watch this Halloween, and I expect it will do well.
One Response to Review: Smile (2022)
I have seen the movie, I like it very much!