HOLLYWOOD—I will admit upon first glance when I heard about the horror film “Smile” I said I’ll pass. Anytime a movie’s title tells you what the movie is about especially in the horror realm they don’t tend to be that entertaining. I can admit I was wrong, but let’s be clear “Smile” is not perfect, but it is a solid thriller. The movie for those in the dark is about a woman who finds herself being tortured by some supernatural entity; When I say entity I am referring to a curse.
So let me preface by saying this, “Smile” loses a few points on the originality scale especially once you get to the third act of the movie. The first act was solid, the second act had me hooked, but as the audience begins to understand why this haunting continues to transpire with our main character Rose (Sosie Bacon), a psychiatrist, who witnesses the vicious death of a patient, it doesn’t win you over.
Rose’s patient emits a sinister smile before killing herself, which plays an important role in the narrative people. Soon after Rose slowly, but surely starts to experience supernatural haunts that heighten as the movie progresses and the people around her suspect she is spiraling out of control.
I loved the notion of a psychiatrist methodically losing her mind, and attempting to convince the people closest to her and in her orbit that she’s NOT going crazy, when everyone seems to believe that she is. They say the most devastating thing is a sane person trying to prove to the world they’re not going insane. It had undertones of the 2003 horror flick “Gothika” starring Halle Berry. Bacon is stellar in the performance as a character that goes from composed to frightened to delusional to panicked to downright emotionally tortured. You see the evolution of a person’s mind, slowly, but surely diminishing in the process and it’s fascinating to witness.
“Smile” has a strong supporting cast that includes Kal Penn, Kyle Gallner, Jessie T. Usher, Rob Morgan and Judy Reyes, particular Gallner who portrays Rose’s ex, Joel, who just happens to be a police detective who connects the dots that Rose’s patient who killed herself died in a similar manner to several other people. This is the part of the movie that disappointed me. Why? It gives you the notion that this is similar to the 2003 and 2004 films “The Ring” and “The Grudge,” where a supernatural entity continues to spread its horror unless you do something specific to stop it.
What you have to do in this movie I will not spoil, but as a viewer it does indeed make you question how far you would go to not only prove your sanity, but to prevent death from taking your life in the process. There are some fantastic jump scares in this movie that work and jolt you as a viewer when you least expect it. While violent, it’s not excessively bloody which is a good thing and it delivers an ending that is proof a sequel or sequels could be in the works.
“Smile” left me pleased as a spectator, not the horror I am use to, but horror that entertained me from start to finish. It gave me a bit of hope that maybe just maybe the genre is finding a way to scare audiences once again and changing the rules that defined it for decades. As noted, the sinister smile seen by plenty of characters in the movie, will indeed unnerve you and if it doesn’t you’re better than me.