Smile (2022)

September 29th, 2022
Author: Meredith Taylor

Dir.: Parker Finn, Cast: Sosie Bacon, Jessie T. Usher, Kyle Gallner, Caitlin Stasey, Robin Weigert, Gillian Zinser, Kal Penn; USA 2022, 115 min.

Horror flick Smile brings nothing new to the sub-genre, although Christobal Tapia de Veer’s inventive soundscape will echo eerily in your head long after the film’s forgettable mundane plot has faded; the second half is particularly absurd and surreal. Parker Finn developed the feature debut from his eleven minute short Laura hasn’t slept and borrows heavily from J-horror especially The Ring and It Follows.

Over-worked and on call 80 plus hours a day Dr Rose Cotter is barely holding down a job in the trauma department of a psychiatric ward in a large hospital where she is also receiving treatment from therapist Dr Madeline Northcott (Weigert) for the damage caused by her mother’s suicide. Backstory-wise Rose also has issues with her sister Holly (Zinser) for leaving Rose to deal with her mother. When Holly’s son celebrates his seventh birthday, he unpacks Rose’ present, only to find the dead body of Rose’ missing cat Moustache. Then comes the more recent shock of Rose seeing her patient Laura (Stasey) die before her very eyes by slicing her throat with a piece of porcelain, having confessed to being unable to cope with the strangely smiling faces of strangers hunting her down.

Soon, Rose is experiencing the same symptoms as her dead patient, and researching Laura’s past she discovers that her university lecturer also committed suicide in front of her. Rose’s fiancé Trevor (Usher), is unwilling to discuss the issue, so Rose turns to ex-boyfriend Joel (Gallner) who happens to be a cop. She has to escape the deadly curse and has only four or five days to do so.

Visually DoP Charlie Sarroff shocks with the some decent horror tropes, jump-cuts and gory set pieces. Sosie Bacon (daughter of Kevin) feels real as a mental health professional coming up against something no textbook has prepared her for. In the end, Smile looks convincing, but no prizes here for the unimaginative storyline. AS

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