Smile (2022)

Smile (2022)

2022 R 115 Minutes

Horror | Mystery

After witnessing a bizarre, traumatic incident involving a patient, Dr. Rose Cotter starts experiencing frightening occurrences that she can't explain. As an overwhelming terror begins taking over...

Overall Rating

7 / 10
Verdict: Good

User Review

  • d_riptide


    8 / 10
    Barbarian and Smile are considered to be some of the more surprising films this year and the two films I’ve been requested to try a lot. I got the hype around Barbarian but I couldn’t wrap my head around Smile….until my girlfriend watched it and gave it a 7/10. That’s when I knew I could no longer avoid the inevitable.

    I think I just found another favorite this year.

    What a directorial debut from Parker Finn. His style seems to scratch that itch of that nascent term of "elevated horror" mixing with the more traditional, in-your-face, jumpscare style corner of horror that I have a love-hate relationship with. However, the manner he walks through each scene blends the best of both of these so elegantly, it’s almost akin to Uncut Gems’s method of stress; trading the Safdie Brothers’ immersive penchant for aggressive forward momentum with oppressive but leisurely situational awareness.

    I was taken aback by how much weight the environments that took up the production design held as well as the safe yet purposeful backdrop that served to buoy the familiar presentation, further elevated by decent dialogue and a magnificently vulnerable performance by Sosie Bacon in a sea of other vulnerable performances. Music is hypnotic and stimulating, greatly enhancing the mood and dour tone, both the atmosphere and color palette of this film is grim and foggy, masterful editing, great use of sound design, and with the cinematography playing like 70’s cinema, (lingering on within the frame, adding dutch angles and continuous one shot long takes), the discomforting nature of the overall presentation is a giant melting pot for claustrophobia and stress.

    The structure of this plot follows the typical beats of a supernatural horror-mystery and that really is the only major downside I can give this; relying really closely on formulaic mystery plotting and imagery and themes lifted from other movies. But….for all the talking the Halloween franchise does about passing down trauma through generations, this film’s story did a much better job on studying the madness that gets passed on through hyper-vigilance in less than half the time. That, in itself, is an utter surprise to me because I wasn’t expecting this movie to have the amount of depth that it did nor did I expect Smile to not deny the connection grief and guilt are often associated with together.

    Not many horror films nowadays naturally condense the paranoia of the protagonist and condition the audience to adapt that same feeling until you’re a bag of nerves. It sounds like the thing horror films are supposed to do but given how rare it actually happens nowadays, it’s sort of refreshing to see someone try and fight back against their demons and lose in the end. It only goes to show how easily we have a tendency to bury and avoid acknowledging the fact we even have a problem, further drowning ourselves in isolation until it’s too late. Here, the movie treads each and every step of the journey with caution, revealing Rose as unreliable of a narrator as possible not to root against her but to pick out when and how and why certain people traumatized by their past try to fight the symptoms rather than the disease to no avail.

    Unfortunately, the actual jump scares themselves……yeah, I still hate them. The first couple were effective and they got the point across but after awhile, the shine was picked apart.

    It doesn’t cut as deep as I would’ve liked it to and I’m aggravated that the trailer was made out to look as generic as possible but I’m glad I gave it a chance at the end of the day because this was surprisingly more worth my time than I originally thought.