Smile Review - Have the Smile of Your Life

 

Summary and Review of Smile

Dr Rose Cotter: Sosie Bacon Trevor: Jessie T. Usher Joel: Kyle Gallner Dr Madleine Northcott: Robin Weigert Laura Weaver: Caitlin Stasey Director: Parker Finn Writer: Parker Finn Release: 2022

After witnessing a bizarre and traumatic incident involving a patient, Dr. Rose Cotter (Sosie Bacon) starts experiencing frightening occurrences that she can't explain. As an overwhelming terror begins taking over her life, Rose must confront her troubling past in order to survive and escape her horrifying new reality.


"Smile" gets to the point without preamble when Rose, a committed but overworked hospital therapist, witnesses the horrific suicide of a patient, which deeply affects her as she experienced her own mother’s suicide as a child. Before dying, the patient jabbers in a terrified fashion about something that has been stalking her. As she dies, she smiles in the most terrifying way and then the horror really begins.

Soon after, frightening occurrences take place, initially attributed to Rose's trauma and these events begin to dominate her reality. With her behaviour becoming increasingly erratic, concerns arise, and her boss insists she takes time off to re-charge and re-focus.

Then things really take a downward turn and her loved ones, including her husband (Jessie T. Usher), distance themselves from her as her mental state deteriorates. In the face of their scepticism, Rose undertakes her own investigation as to why this is happening to her in a bid to prevent a catastrophic outcome. The only person she can trust is her ex-boyfriend, Joel (Kyle Gallner), who, for various reasons, is more inclined to think she might be onto something and he also quickly becomes drawn into the escalating nightmare.

"Smile" certainly delivers the fear-factor, providing effective, but well-spaced, jump-scares; some you might predict but there are others that you won’t. The pacing keeps the tension heightened, evoking a constant sense of anticipation and dread and there is little time for your heart-rate to slow before it’s ramped up again.

Yes, this film draws on themes from other well-known productions but it’s none the worse for that. Let’s face it, new horror plot devices are hard to come by and this offers a new twist on a familiar concept. The cinematography and other technical aspects are skillfully executed, accompanied by a jarring, discordant score that complements the action with editing that creates a sense of disorientation in a world turned upside-down.

Sosie Bacon, as Rose, delivers a star turn as a woman whose sanity is questioned and finds she has nowhere to turn as her plight balloons out of control. She gives her all as Rose, battling both a demonic stalker and increasing doubt in her ability to function from those around her. The supporting cast band together ably to frustrate Rose’s attempts to convince them that there is something more sinister afoot.

It wasn’t perfect. I could make minor criticisms (the “smiles” at times looked more comical than frightening) and the ending may be somewhat predictable, but overall, this directorial debut from Parker Finn is genuinely, creepily terrifying that caused me to jump, literally, on a number of occasions.

I used a rental voucher, so I didn’t pay to watch this but had I done so, I wouldn't have felt short-changed. Whatever you’re doing by the end of this film, it won’t be smiling.

4/5

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