When you’re smiling the whole world smiles at you. Maybe not in this case, but most of the resto of the time.
Dr. Rose Cotter, a workaholic psychiatrist at a busy hospital, sees a troubled patient that complains of hallucinations of people with creepy smiles terrifying her every waking moment. Initially Dr. Cotter doesn’t believe the young woman, but when the same phenomenon begins happening to her, she must investigate the origins of the mysterious curse before it is too late.
Review of Smile (2022)
Smile is the first feature length film from writer/director Parker Finn and is a retelling and expansion of his short Laura hasn’t slept. I haven’t been this excited about a new director since Ari Aster.
I loved this movie.
It has depth, it’s well crafted, and it features excellent performances from its cast.
Lets start with the tone and theme of the movie. It’s an on the nose allegory for the long lasting emotional effects of trauma, which specifically uses trauma as a device in the plot. The fact that it is so on the nose and that I didn’t feel like it was ever ham handed in it’s delivery, makes it all the more impressive to me. The tone is dark and helpless, and only sinks deeper throughout.
The direction and editing was fantastic. It has some of the best jumpscares I have ever witnessed, and somehow they seemed innovative instead of hacky. I jumped and yelled out several times in the theater. In so doing, it reaches the elusive praise of being “scary” by which some viewers judge horror movies.
The sound design and music should almost get top billing on the poster. I’ve never been so disorientated and terrorized by ringing phones. The music is deeply unsettling and is composed by Cristobal Tapia de Veer, who did the music for White Lotus on HBOMax
Sosie Bacon, relative of the famous Travis Bacon, plays Rose, and her devolution into madness was convincing and heart wrenching.
The characters felt fleshed out, and the relationships felt real. There was one scene between Rose and her fiance played by The Boys’ Jessie T. Usher, that felt false to me, but eventually his character and that relationship was framed in a way that even made that one moment make sense.
It’s a movie that can be easily compared to It Follows and Th e Babadook, but it doesn’t ever feel derivative.
I didn’t think I’d find another horror movie this year that I’d love as much as Barbarian, but here we are, just weeks later.
I can’t stress this enough. I am a jaded, pretentious movie reviewer (see my comments on Terrifier 2’s review for proof). I no longer watch horror movies out of love or desire. I watch them out of obligation. This movie and Barbarian opened my cold heart and gave me childlike joy and terror, much like the critic at the end of Ratatouie. My faith in filmmaking is restored when I see new creative writer/directors that can still shock and delight me in the movie theater.
Thank you Parker Finn