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Turn that frown upside down
‘Smile’ is a new film released in 2022 directed and written by Parker Finn in his directorial debut. To start with, I must say that this is an impressive opening for any director. This indie horror is based on Finn’s short film titled ‘Laura Hasn’t Slept’ and follows the character of Dr. Rose Cotter who is played by Sosie Bacon. Dr. Cotter is a doctor at a psych ward where she works with patients with extreme mental problems. One day a young woman comes in and says that she sees people smiling at her and that something evil is out to get her. This young woman then kills herself in front of Dr. Cotter who then starts to see the same thing that the young woman described to her. Dr. Cotter must then learn how to beat this evil force before it is too late.
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A glowing smile of approval
‘Smile’ as a whole has many up and down moments but altogether it is consistently scary. The film features more jump scares than I could count and most of them are done quite effectively. I can attest that I jumped a few times throughout the film’s runtime. Another thing that adds to the film’s scares is its synth score which is creative and definitely adds a creepy layer to the film’s horrid atmosphere. Then there is the film’s cinematography which is unique and features a wide variety of shots including an impressive variety of drone photography which works in the film’s favor. All of these elements then come together to create what may be the scariest event of this year to date, and that is not hyperbole.
In-Depth Commentary from Cast and Crew of ‘Smile’
‘Smile’ deals with topics mainly surrounding mental illness and its effect on us and the people around us. This elevates ‘Smile’ to be more than just a good horror film but a good film in general. ‘Smile’ also features some of the best visual effects that I have seen all year. They are gross, gruesome, and disgusting in all the best ways possible. There is an insane amount of detail in the shots where CGI is used. All of this really adds to the terror in the film in general. These layers and effects really work to elevate ‘Smile’ as a film in general and propel it past many of its competitors.
Finally, ‘Smile’ features some great acting, particularly from Sosie Bacon who does a fantastic job portraying her character. The role of Dr. Cotter is one that is no doubt demanding but Bacon delivers a great performance where she seems like she is genuinely in terror throughout most of the film. Sosie Bacon and the rest of the cast do a great job at turning ‘Smile’ into just a great horror film.
A frowning experience
The inspiration from ‘It Follows’ is abundantly clear through the film and in many ways holds it back from being a truly original narrative and something which at times was extremely distracting to me throughout the film. Everything from the evil being to the synth score was seemingly ripped right out of ‘It Follows.’ Now while this in most cases may not necessarily be a bad thing, I believe that in this case, it is a bad thing. This is due to the fact that the inspiration behind ‘Smile’ is so heavy-handed that I believe it borders on plagiarism.
‘Smile’ as a whole
All in all, ‘Smile’ is honestly a good horror film with a rather unoriginal premise. I would recommend it to fans of the horror genre and to anyone who enjoyed ‘It Follows’ especially. ‘Smile’ succeeds at scaring its audiences through its many jump scares and creepy score but ultimately fails at being a great film by being so indebted to ‘It Follows.’ The bottom line however is that ‘Smile,’ while being unoriginal, is still a fun film and not something I would miss. In the sea of bad horror content that seems to come out nowadays ‘Smile’ stands strong and in its own corner.
Also, make sure to check out the new horror film ‘Prey for the Devil’ which comes out on October 28th.
Director: Parker Finn
Writer: Parker Finn
Producers: Marty Bowen, Wyck Godfrey, Isaac Klausner, and Robert Salerno
Cast: Sosie Bacon, Jessie T. Usher, and Kyle Gallner
By Nathaniel Lee
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