Make sure the liquor cabinet at home is good Stocked, because you might just want a hard drink after seeing it smiling. Writer and director Parker Fenn’s debut, expanded from his SXSW Award-nominated short film Laura didn’t sleep, designed to work on your last nerves…in a good way, if such a thing is possible. It may take time and frequent viewings to make sure of how good or bad your viewing is smiling As a movie, but as a scary delivery device, it’s very effective. (Operator Warning: Anyone who cannot bear to see harm to pets should probably avoid.)
At least until the climax escalates, Finn’s debut appears to have been pretty cost-effective as well, given the film’s primary threat is the malevolent presence often masquerading as one of Stanley Kubrick’s most famous shots as director. You know the person: head tilted down, eyes looking at the camera, mouth smiling wide like a Joker. Jack Torrance, Alex DeLarge, and Private Bale now have a company.
smiling It follows in the J-horror sub-genre of “Deadly Letters” films such as the ring And the grudge, where an unstoppable curse passes from one condemned person to another. In this case, the smiling presence jumping among the victim leads the person to violent suicide, always in front of a witness who becomes his next victim within a week. The most effective fears include variations of the best Hideo Nakata game in dark waterwhere the character suddenly realizes that there is something frightening next to her or behind her, and turns slowly, reluctantly to look at it, only to find that it is worse than he imagines.
Psychiatrist Rose Cotter (Susie Bacon), a very noble doctor who reminds her fiancé that she would work for free if she had to, becomes her latest target when she becomes an emergency patient (Caitlin Stacey, as good as Lucky McKee’s crazy aunt). harmonious souls) slices open her neck in front of her – without a wince, no less. Rose is already dealing with enough of the lingering trauma from her struggling sister and perfect mother (Gillian Zinser), but the death of the grim-faced woman in her office leads to the early stages of the meltdown. Consequently, no one believes her when she begins to see herself smile, especially not her conservative supervisor, Dr.
Creepy smiles have been a staple of scary cinema at least since Conrad Veidt inspired the creation of the Joker in The Man Who Laughs. As a recent viral stunt by the Smile team at a baseball game showed, the evil-infused expression can be particularly effective even at a distance, as occasionally happens in the film. The score, by Cristobal Tapia de Veer (The White Lotus) does the rest of the work, building crescendos of droning noises and crying sounds into tempests of insanity that cut off at just the right moment. It helps set the mood that Rose, even when pursued by an evil presence, keeps her house lights set at extra dim and her phone ringer at extra loud.
There’s some comic relief, but it’s very deadpan, such as when a secondary character gets unduly excited by his vegan meal. It may ease the tension to realize that the demon/spirit/whatever is apparently a fan of exposition, and doesn’t appear whenever Rose is actively learning information that furthers the plot. The moment she gets any downtime, though, watch the hell out.
Bacon is onscreen in nearly every scene, and she makes Rose’s journey from trauma counselor to traumatized entirely convincing. Though she comes from acting royalty—the daughter of Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgewick—there’s no actorly vanity here. Emotionally she leaves it all on the table. Kyle Gallner, currently great on Hulu as an aggressive criminal in Dinner In America, goes wonderfully in the other direction here, as Rose’s understanding ex who conveniently happens to be a cop. His character stands in contrast to Jessie T. Usher as Rose’s fiancé, who’s nice but largely ineffectual, but to the film’s credit, it casually centers an interracial couple without commentary or awkwardness.
Though much of the special makeup involves typical blood and guts, along with the kind of minor digital tweaks to victims’ smiles that Soundgarden employed back in the music video for “Black Hole Sun,” the effects team at Amalgamated Dynamics puts together some truly disturbing imagery for the film’s final third. Smile is unable to resist the temptation of a potential sequel, but Finn delivers an effective resolution nonetheless. Tying the evil force to lingering trauma—and having to smile through the worst of it—is the movie’s most potent weapon, and what ultimately differentiates it from predecessors like Final Destination or Oculus. It’s obvious that Finn draws heavily from his own favorites, but Smile suggests that their skill and effectiveness have successfully been passed along to him.