December 4, 2022
Smile (2022) Review

“Despite being predictable near the end, and nothing we haven’t seen before, Paramount’s Smile does enough to keep the audience entertained and scared out of their wits.”

Writer/ Director Parker Finn created a short movie in 2020 named ‘Laura Hasn’t Slept.’ Now, he has expanded that short movie into a supernatural psychological horror movie in the shape of ‘Smile.’ And with almost perfect timing, the film is opening just before the start of October, giving it enough time to build up an audience in the run-up to Halloween. But can the film live up to its promise of being an original, scary horror movie for the ages?

Scary, yes. There are plenty of chills and scares during its 115-minute runtime. Original, it certainly isn’t. However, despite being predictable near the end, and nothing we haven’t seen before, Paramount’s Smile does enough to keep the audience entertained and scared out of their wits.

Smile (2022)
Sosie Bacon stars in Paramount Pictures Presents in Association with Paramount Players A Temple Hill Production “SMILE.”

THE PREMISE

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 her life, Rose must confront her troubling past to survive and escape her horrifying new reality.

Sosie Bacon stars in Paramount Pictures Presents in Association with Paramount Players A Temple Hill Production “SMILE.”

INITIAL THOUGHTS

Let’s get this out of the way early. Take a pinch of ‘It Follows’, ‘The Ring’, and ‘Drag Me To Hell’. Combine with ‘Laura Hasn’t Slept’ and ‘Mama’ and you have ‘Smile.’ The elements listed will tell you everything you need to know about the film. But that shouldn’t stop the audience from going to see the movie. Far from it. There are enough original elements in the film that keep things ticking along quite nicely. And will guarantee the film’s success.

There is enough jump scares involved alongside the plot that will give the audience the creeps from the start. And there are a few visuals contained during the film to make people wince and feel like turning away in horror. And it is gory in places.

Robin Weigert in Paramount Pictures Presents in Association with Paramount Players A Temple Hill Production “SMILE.”

THE CAST

Sosie Bacon is excellent in her role as Rose. She really goes through the wringer during the movie and her emotional performance carries the weight of the film on her shoulders. She appears in almost every scene from the very start until the end as we follow her journey from the clinical doctor through to an emotionally wrecked victim. We feel for her at every turn and Sosie Bacon deserves great plaudits for her performance.

The same goes for Kyle Gallner as Joel, a police detective and Rose’s ex-boyfriend. He adds emotional weight to the film as his character tries to understand the horror Rose is going through and to help her in any way he can. This includes breaking the rules of his profession.

Kyle Gallner stars in Paramount Pictures Presents in Association with Paramount Players A Temple Hill Production “SMILE.”

The supporting cast each plays their part in limited capacities. Jessie T. Usher as Rose’s boyfriend Trevor has the thankless task of being the boyfriend who worries about his girlfriend while also not understanding or believing what she is telling him. Strangely, his character disappears around three-quarters of the way through and doesn’t appear again.

Kal Penn does his best in a throwaway role as Rose’s boss Dr. Morgan Desai, appearing on screen for a few minutes only to vanish for almost all of the rest of the film, turning up in limited brief appearances. The same goes for Robin Weigert as Rose’s psychiatrist Madeline Northcott. She appears, vanishes, and reappears until her character plays a vital and sinister role later on.

Smile (2022)
Kal Penn stars in Paramount Pictures Presents in Association with Paramount Players A Temple Hill Production “SMILE.”

CAITLIN STASEY

But the best of the supporting cast is Caitlin Stasey as the first victim, Laura Weaver. It isn’t a spoiler to say that her appearance at the start doesn’t end well. But thankfully, she makes appearances here and there during proceedings. It is her first appearance at the beginning that holds the most weight. Her character is terrified, telling Rose what she has been seeing and what it all means. These scenes show that Caitlin Stasey is a terrific actress. And adds even more emotional and frightening weight to the film as a whole.

Caitlin Stasey in Paramount Pictures Presents in Association with Paramount Players A Temple Hill Production “SMILE.”

WRITING AND DIRECTION

Parker Finn handles things pretty well, despite the plot and story being nothing original. You can see what he was trying to achieve with his screenplay. And he tries hard to bring us something that we don’t expect. In some parts of the film, he manages to do it. But sadly, by the end credits, we find ourselves mired in predictability. We have seen some of what happens before, and that lets the film down in many ways.

By halfway through the film, I had guessed the ending, and that is never good. At times, I could see what was going to happen so when it did, I wasn’t surprised. And that, as a horror fan, let me down somewhat. But Finn must get credit for trying, and for the most part, succeeding in scaring the audience. His direction and visuals are top-notch and give the film a real sense of reality, despite the predictable nature.

Smile (2022)
Sosie Bacon stars in Paramount Pictures Presents in Association with Paramount Players A Temple Hill Production “SMILE.”

FINAL THOUGHTS

Smile is an efficient and entertaining horror movie that will and should appeal to the masses. It is very creepy and frightening at times and gives the audience the chills from the start. Some of what we see on the screen is genuinely disturbing and horrifying while at other times, we feel our hearts being wrenched out of our chests as Rose’s situation becomes even worse. The film does the right thing and adds some real emotional weight to proceedings as we watch Rose fall deeper down into a pit of despair and sheer fright.

Smile (2022)
Sosie Bacon stars in Paramount Pictures Presents in Association with Paramount Players A Temple Hill Production “SMILE.”

Sosie Bacon and Caitlin Stasey make the film a worthy horror film that passes the time pretty well and is a great movie for date night frights. The scares come at us thick and fast and some of what we see is terrifying. Cat owners and lovers will be going home and hugging their furry friends as tight as they can (you’ll see what I mean). The visual effects are top-notch, the cast is superb, and the direction is inspired. Sadly, the fall into formulaic nature and predictability drags the film down somewhat. But make no doubt about it, by the time the end credits roll, you will indeed be leaving the theater smiling. A big, uneasy but satisfied Smile.

Smile opens in cinemas in the UK on September 28th and in U.S theaters on September 30th.

 

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