Posted by Karina "ScreamQueen" Adelgaard | Sep 29, 2022 | Read Time 4 min.
SMILE is a new horror movie in which the classic horror smile plays an all-important leading role. This creepy smile has also been used in marketing in the US, where people appear here, there, and everywhere with grim smiles.
While I did not scream while watching the movie, I did jump in my seat several times. Also, I came close to hurting both myself and my Heaven of Horror co-conspirator when one of the first jumpscares hit me hard. I even sat and waited for it, because I knew it was coming, but the timing was just so perfectly cruel.
Kind of like that scene in episode 8 of The Haunting of Hill House where I almost didn’t breathe until a minute later.
Continue reading our Smile review below. The film is out in US theaters on September 30, 2022.
Oh no, now I’m starting again with all the big comparisons, but they’re all quite valid. The plot itself deals with a curse in the style of The Ring. However, the big difference is that only the cursed person can see what is chasing them – just like in It Follows.
The comparison with both movies and plots ends there, but the common denominator is still effective horror.
And then there’s the James Wan touch. I kept thinking of James Wan movies because the framing and shots are used in the most cunning James Wan way. We are dragged around in this world, where the camera moves around and often tilts a little or comes completely upside down.
Personally, I get a bit squeamish about this sort of thing every now and then (a touch of motion sickness, probably), but it works quite effectively in Smile.
In addition to having the horror smile as an absolute force, Smile wins by having a fantastic sound design. It is so violent that people with slightly frayed horror nerves will probably be in doubt as to whether they should cover their eyes or their ears.
We experienced the same intense audio attack in the Danish horror movie Speak No Evil and also in Thelma. It really is terribly effective!
In fact, we stayed during the end credits only because of the sound that continued until the last second. Just as I was about to leave, new (and rather strange) noises came from the screen [or rather, the surround sound], so most people in the theater stopped in their tracks.
But don’t start thinking that the sound design is the only violent thing. Because there’s a lot of intensity coming from the visuals as well. The last act in particular is a very extreme experience. In a good way. We are talking good old classic cinema horror, where it all spills out of the screen and assaults the audience, who sit quietly pressed back into their seats.
The all-important leading role in Smile is played by Sosie Bacon (Mare of Easttown) as the psychiatrist Rose Cotter. After a violent experience with a patient, she begins to see many strange things. At first, she thinks it’s “just” post-traumatic stress of some kind. However, she quickly discovers that there is something much bigger (and darker) at play.
In other words, we are indeed dealing with a horror mystery. In the same way as The Ring and It Follows.
As her rather indifferent fiancé, we see Jessie T. Usher (A-Train from The Boys) and as a helpful cop, we get Kyle Gallner (Scream). In addition, there is Kal Penn (Clarice) as her concerned and well-meaning boss, and then Robin Weigert (American Horror Story, Castle Rock season 2) as her therapist.
Let’s just say that there is a lot of terrible childhood trauma in Rose Cotter’s (Sosie Bacon) past. And I’ll leave it at that! The entire cast delivers exactly what they need and in some cases a little more. Jessie T. Usher doesn’t have much to work with, and what he does create isn’t impressive anyway. Unfortunately.
Smile is written and directed by Parker Finn, who makes his feature film debut in both areas. And what a wonderful debut to begin one’s career with. I have to be honest and say that I expected a nice 3 star-movie from Smile. In other words, a good horror film with solid entertainment, but not much more really.
However, we are much closer to an effective 3½, and since we don’t give half stars, we round up to a solid 4 to pay tribute to the good theater experience it offers.
I don’t think this is on an Ari Aster or Jordan Peele level, but we’re not that far off either. Not when it comes to the love of, or talent for, telling a horror story in a way that really hits all marks. A bit like we saw in The Black Phone, but I think the running time is better used here. At least I didn’t notice that it lasts just under two hours (1 hour and 55 minutes).
The audio alone is more than reason enough to watch Smile in a movie theater. In addition, there is also something more supernatural towards the end that really does well on the big screen.
Smile is out in US theaters on September 30, 2022. And around the same time in most other countries.
In Theaters: September 30, 2022
Director: Parker Finn
Writer: Parker Finn
Cast: Sosie Bacon, Caitlin Stasey, Kyle Gallner, Jessie T. Usher, Rob Morgan, Kal Penn, Judy Reyes
Rose is a psychiatrist plagued by what she believes to be something supernatural. After a bizarre incident with a patient, she begins to experience inexplicable phenomenons that only she can see. Throughout the film, Rose grows more paranoid that what’s pursuing her is something malevolent and, possibly, supernatural.
I write reviews and recaps on Heaven of Horror. And yes, it does happen that I find myself screaming, when watching a good horror movie. I love psychological horror, survival horror and kick-ass women. Also, I have a huge soft spot for a good horror-comedy. Oh yeah, and I absolutely HATE when animals are harmed in movies, so I will immediately think less of any movie, where animals are harmed for entertainment (even if the animals are just really good actors). Fortunately, horror doesn’t use this nearly as much as comedy. And people assume horror lovers are the messed up ones. Go figure!
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Smile (2022) – Review | Creepy Horror Movie – Heavenofhorror.com