A Chilling Look Into Smile

Though the movie is called Smile, it had me anything but smiling during the entire film. This movie lives up to its genre, being horror/psychological thriller.

Smile has a sense of constant eerie uneasiness. This film is not in your face with the jump scares; it takes its time scaring you and constantly keeping you on your toes. The viewer will anticipate a scene to be scary only for it to be harmless, and the scenes you think are innocuous will terrify you.

The film follows Rose Cotter, played by Sosie Bacon, a therapist at a hospital who is a workaholic. As Cotter is wrapping up after a long shift at the hospital, she gets a phone call about a new patient in severe distress.

The patient, Laura Weaver, played by Caitlin Stasey, is in a panic as she senses evil at her side trying to kill her. Cotter tries to rationalize with Weaver until Weaver seemingly has a panic attack and commits suicide in front of Cotter. Afterward, Cotter too feels the presence of evil that the patient had described to her.

Cotter then embarks on a journey to find anyone else associated with this problem who might feel the same lurking evil, which leads her down a seemingly endless rabbit hole until she eventually finds one person who managed to get rid of the evil.

Upon meeting them, Cotter inquires about how to evade the looming presence. She questions, “Why is it that everybody else who’s seen it is dead, and you’re alive?” However, the answer doesn’t provide her with any relief. Though Cotter does not get the answer she is looking for, the person does give her excellent insight into what this evil is seeking.

With this information, Cotter attempts to confront the evil on her own by delving into past trauma she has had to deal with throughout her life. It is then that Cotter comes face to face with the monster and attempts to expel it from her life for good.

I am not one for horror films; I am more of an action, fantasy, or adventure moviegoer. Even with that in mind, I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. The best aspect of this film is its audio, which is used as a key component to make it even scarier than it already is.

An eerie sound always plays when transitioning from scene to scene, which I think messes people’s minds. Danger is always looming around every corner, and the use of audio cues reinforces that for the viewer and keeps them on the edge of their seat.

The cinematography struck me as confusing at times. There are some fantastic shots in this film, but I feel that a few scenes are unnecessary, or perhaps I didn’t quite understand them.

For example, some transitions throughout the movie showed the screen turning upside down, which I felt was meaningless and distracted from the film itself. If there was a specific reason for this choice, I would be able to appreciate it more. However, the lack of explanation left me confused.

Death, and the looming threat of dying, are constant throughout the movie. The phrase, “You’re gonna die” is repeated several times throughout the film, although it never specifies when you will die. You know that death is coming, but nothing else. It’s an impending and inevitable doom.

I found the ending of the movie to be subpar considering the tension and the turmoil that were built up for the duration of it. Still, I found its R rating to be appropriate given the multiple scenes of violence.

I would not recommend this film for children or teens, people who have an extensive history of mental health issues, and people who are squeamish when it comes to blood. It is scary, violent, and deals with sensitive topics pertaining to suicide that make it unfit for several audiences. Still, if you’re someone who likes a good scare and are aware of its potential triggers, Smile may be a good fit for you.

At an hour and 55 minutes, I would give this movie a 3.5 out of 5 stars. I liked it a lot considering it’s a genre that I don’t typically watch, and it kept me intrigued for the entirety of its duration—minus the ending and some of its more questionable elements that I did not fully understand.