Rose Cotter is a therapist who watches one of her patients commit suicide. The patient had been complaining of seeing visions of a smiling entity before she died. Soon, Rose starts to see visions herself and must find out what is happening and how to stop it before it’s too late.
Smile is a very effective horror film while also being sort of unmemorable. Let me explain.
First off, Sosie Bacon (daughter of Kevin Bacon) is really good as the lead. She is convincing as a therapist who all of a sudden might be having a mental breakdown. Her character conveys hopelessness really well and we feel it as we go on this journey with her.
The trailer shows a lot of the scares but they are still well done and effective. This is due to the direction of director Parker Finn as well as cinematographer Charlie Sarroff. Sarroff had previously worked on 2020’s Relic. Another film that relies heavily on dread. The movie has two big scares that work very well. It really makes you wish trailers showed less.
The film works because it is always creepy. A smile is usually comforting and inviting. Some of the best horror movies take something that we wouldn’t associate with fear and turns it on its head completely. The audience watches each scene and the unsettling feeling never lets up. We don’t learn much about the said entity. We honestly don’t learn much about anything but the movie still works because of the nonstop creepy factor.
While chilling, the thing that makes the movie not very memorable is how derivative it is. It doesn’t have too many original ideas. When watching you can’t help but point out things that remind you of other horror films. Most of the time these other horror films have done these ideas better. There are not likely to be any horror fans who haven’t seen some of these things before.
Another problem the movie has is there are characters and storylines that kind of disappear after a while with no explanation or closure and it comes off as awkward. The theme of overcoming trauma is a big one but it is only explored at a surface level. After the film, I discovered that this movie was based on an 11-minute short film released in 2020. This made a lot of sense as many characters and scenes do feel like filler to stretch out the runtime. The story honestly could have been told in thirty minutes.
Smile has no right to be as good and effective as it actually is with a plot that doesn’t really have much to offer. While being overlong it is never boring and the scares never feel cheap. It is the perfect viewing experience for anyone looking for a quick scare. Just don’t expect many to talk about this one for years to come. For a film like this, that is perfectly fine.