Smile (2022)

Smile is everything I hate about modern horror: a plot hijacked from the 90s obsession with Westernizing J-horror, CGI blood, herky jerky cameras, an overreliance on jump cuts, interstitial drone shots and so many sins against my personal cinematic rules. Sure, I love Jess Franco, Jean Rollin, Bruno Mattei, Joe D’Amato and direct to streaming Amityville movies and have no taste, but I still know a movie that has no merit whatsoever when I watch it.

A longer version of director and writer Parker Finn’s Laura Hasn’t Slept, this is totally a short stretched to feature length and all of the issues that that brings. That same Laura Weaver (Caitlin Stasey) is a patient of Dr. Rose Cotter (Sosie Bacon) and she hasn’t slept since she watched her art professor kill himself after an entity hunted him through the smiles of people who proclaimed that he would die. Now she has the same issue and passes it on to our protagonist and then slitting her neck as computerized blood fills the floor. So, you know, The Ring-style curse gets passed on, strange moments of possession of people all around her, a past with a mother who died while she watched…you’ve seen it all before, but at least this one had a fun ad campaign of smiling people showing up on TV and smiling through news shows and baseball games.

Does the protagonist have a cop boyfriend still in love with her? Yes.

Does she have a curse that she has to pass on? Yes.

Does it toy with the hope of a happy ending only to pull the rug? Yes.

Derek Riggs, who created Eddie for Iron Maiden, once told me that someone smiling was the most unsettling visual. He’s right. I wish he could have also explained to these filmmakers how to make a better movie not so reliant on cliches, but then again, people have been quick to enshrine this along with other movies that really aren’t that special like It Follows and The Babadook, two very simple movies that simply aren’t anywhere near as wonderful as people hunting for something to evangelize, empty notions of film that would barely register were so many truly dreadful horror movies being made. In the kingdom of really dumb movies, slightly stupid ones have become king.

One thought on “Smile (2022)

  1. Watched this yesterday. Didn’t hate it as much as you but yeah…nothing new under the sun and fairly predictable how it was all going to unfold.


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