“Smile” Will Leave Your Frown Turned Upside Down
By: Gaby Maldonado
Parker Finn’s feature directorial debut “Smile” is a psychological horror film that embodies a perfect mix of serious trauma horror and jumpy popcorn entertainment. Based on the 2020 short film “Laura Hasn’t Slept,” “Smile” is about a therapist (Sosie Bacon) who begins to experience bizarre and unsettling events in the aftermath of witnessing a patient’s gruesome death. As things continue to worsen, she must decide whether the cause is the mental health problems that run in her family or a dark supernatural force.
“Smile” includes many elements that audiences have seen on screen multiple times before like being stuck in a nightmare of sinister situations, being aware of your own death, and not knowing whom to trust. That being said, there is a distinctive layer to this movie on top of all these common elements. It tackles themes of mental health and the weight of trauma in an impressive way. Molding these subjects into the movie’s horror world made the film much scarier than expected.
Although “Smile” was a frightful film, it is no secret that it drew inspiration from many films, especially from David Robert Mitchell’s “It Follows.” Both films have similar cinematography, and both feature a specific individual being pursued by an evil that cannot be reasoned with. There is also a similarity with Jeffrey Clark Wadlow’s “Truth or Dare” with both films including humans making eerie smiles.
Bacon’s performance was remarkable, and she perfectly portrayed the progression from suspicion to lunacy without making it cringeworthy. Jessie T. Usher, Kyle Gallner, Caitlin Stasey, Kal Penn, and Rob Morgan also starred in the film and delivered great performances as well.
There were many jump scares along with impressive camera angles to add emphasis to the story. Overall, “Smile” was a decent horror movie that is worth watching if you want a good scare. and it is a compelling addition to the horror genre.