Sunday, October 23, 2022

Smile - Movie Review

The Movie: Smile

The Director: Parker Finn

The Cast: Sosie Bacon, Jessie T. Usher, Kyle Gallner, Robin Weigert, Caitlin Stasey with Kal Penn, Rob Morgan

The Story: 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 in order to survive and escape her horrifying new reality.

The Review:
These days horror movies come a dime a dozen and they are pushed out by studios as fast as they can be thrown together because they are generally both inexpensive to make and profitable at the box office so it can be diffcult to find one that stands out. At face value, Smile might seem like it's going to be too cheesy for its own good but as it turns out, I was smiling on my way out of the theater after watching a more than sufficiently tense story and plenty of effective jump scares to go around.

This type of film is definitely enhanced by watching it in a theater to get that proper horror movie experience and especially if there are a lot of people in attendance. Jump scares are always better when shared with a bunch of people, right? Visually, the filmmakers set the tone with a nice mix of modern techniques and throwback style imagery and yet none of it gets in the way of the storytelling. This is director Parker Finn's first feature film yet you would never know it by how well the entire production is put together.

I think the main reason this movie works so well is thanks to the performance from Sosie Bacon in the lead role as Rose Cotter, the latest target of the evil smiley demon ghost thing. She does a great job of conveying the trauma, the stress, the anxiety, and all the other emotions her character roller coaster rides through over the course of the movie. It was very interesting to see her journey play out in the context of mental health issues derived from childhood trauma and then the added context of the evil using all of that really brought out the needed level of tension.

It was also great to see Kyle Gallner in this movie as I absolutely loved his performance in Adam Rehmeier's film Dinner In America. If you haven't watched that movie, please drop everything and go check it out right away. Or after you finish reading this review. Gallner shows he has a bright future in Hollywood films and he makes a strong impact in this movie as well even in a supporting role that probably should have received more screen time. Maybe we'll get to see more of him if this movie gets a sequel or two and I really hope that it does.

The Verdict:
Smile is a truly scary movie and one that I hope can set up a new genre franchise as there is a lot of history introduced in the story that could be explored further. Parker Finn's debut effort as a director should be looked back on as the start of something big both for himself and for the movie.

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