Dir. Parker Finn (2022)
A psychiatrist witnesses the disturbing supernatural death of one of her patients and then finds herself being haunted by the same diabolical presence.
CAUTION: MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS
Featuring one of the best marketing campaign in years, Smile stormed onto the scene as potentially the next face of mass-market supernatural horror. Unfortunately, while there were some pretty terrifying visuals and a concept that screams fall blockbuster, it falls flat due to some poor choices that really take you out of the film and leave it failing to deliver what could’ve been a stellar film. It also features one of the most out-of-left-field endings that somehow managed to make the film less appealing despite being what could’ve been the best part of a completely different film. More on that in a minute.
Don’t get me wrong, Smile is at times horrific. One of the scariest parts of Truth or Dare (which happens to be one of The Morrigan’s favorite horror movies and is on a near constant rotation in the household) is that damn smile that indicates the presence of the tricky demonic force responsible for the plot of that film. Smile matches those visuals in scene after scene, and it almost feels like an unofficial sequel of that earlier, better film (or perhaps even a far-less-scary It Follows). Whether it’s twisty-necked fiends trying to freak out the main heroine or just random people in the crowd giving her the menacing grin, you never quite know where to expect the next horrible smirk. The concept alone would’ve made a fantastic short film, but the lack of coherency in where the plot wanted to go and the possible resolutions fell short of expectations and left the audience with questions as to whether this works at feature length.
The reviews are mixed, however. Lots of folks loved the film, crazy-ass, shoehorned demon in the finale be damned, but just as many seemed to fall on the side that I found myself. While I wouldn’t say this film comes anywhere near the “Best of” list for last year, it’s also hard to come out against recommending a watch. It’s fairly cookie-cutter, not entirely surprising, and certainly geared towards a slightly-later-teen crowd. It also, again, is legitimately creepy-as-hell in parts, and it may well be right up your alley. It’s a movie that I can definitely say is worth a watch, but I highly doubt I’ll be watching it again. Do with that what you will, but if you have Paramount Plus it’s free, so why not.
Who this movie is for: Teen horror fans, Creepy visual lovers who don’t need a deeper plot, Shiny happy people
Bottom line: Smile wasn’t my cup of tea, but it wasn’t entirely bad either. It’s not a film that I feel the need to watch again, and it’s certainly not one that I need to own, but it’s got enough to be worth a watch for some folks. Check it out if you get the chance, it’s worth it for the crazy ending alone. Just don’t expect anything deeper, and don’t be sad if you don’t find yourself watching a modern classic