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Smile: A Horrifying Hello

TW: Suicide and death

Smiles are usually a show of innocent happiness and peace, but in Smile, they mean something incredibly different. Dr. Rose Cotter works in the emergency psychiatric ward at her hospital. She loves her job and she’s very good at it, but one day she experiences a case unlike anything she’s ever seen. A woman is taken into her care, describing terrifying hallucinations that threaten not only her sanity but her life. After this woman passes away traumatically in front of Dr. Cotter, she is faced with the strange circumstances surrounding her patient’s death, as well as things she’s seeing that she can’t necessarily explain (IMDb).

Smile was written and directed by Parker Finn, a writer, producer, and director previously known for, The Hidebehind and Laura Hasn’t Slept, both of which are short horror films under 15 minutes. As Finn’s first full-length feature film, Smile has shone at the box office, securing 22 million dollars worth of ticket sales within North America, and 37 million dollars worldwide (Smith). With a 79% on the Tomatometer and a 77% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes, Smile seems to be a success. FeastMode, a reviewer on IMDb comments, “I can't stop smiling at the mastery of filmmaking on display in Smile…It's visually elite,”. User brah_vo claims that Smile is,[A] Very decent horror movie kinda dating back to the mid/late 2000s. If you enjoyed the Ring, Hereditary, It follows, you will very much love this,”(IMDb). Comparing Smile to the Ring, Hereditary, and It Follows, is incredibly high praise and certainly raised my expectations for what this movie might be. However, although most reviews praise this movie, some viewers weren’t as impressed. Another user on IMDb, scottkolflat writes that, “If you don't think about the plot holes and how normal people would behave, then this movie is pretty good. The problem is that I have a brain and I use it, so I didn't like this movie,”.

Earlier this fall, before the release of Smile, many people noticed planted actors in the audiences of talk shows and baseball games, such as the Today Show and a Yankees v. Red Sox game, that did nothing but smile during the event (Smith). These “smilers” were hired by Paramount as a marketing strategy for Smile. Not only did this garnera lot of interest from the public, but it makes the events in Smile seem more realistic and even creepier.

The paragraphs beyond this point may contain spoilers.

This movie was absolutely terrifying. Horror movies sometimes seem predictable, however, this one was not. The audience is able to experience what Dr. Cotter’s view and understanding of the world is throughout this movie, which often blurs the line between what is real and fake. The audience is given clues to what this reality of the situation is, but it’s difficult to tell if what’s on the screen is a delusion, the reality, or an incredibly biased perspective. Although the audience rarely gets a break from the terror that is Rose’s reality, the plot of the movie is still clear and has consistent direction. There are clear goals for the characters, and twists and turns as the story progresses. It’s easy to empathize with the characters and actually care about them and their futures.

If you are interested in watching Smile, catch it while it’s still in theatres, or watch at home on Amazon Prime Video.

Works Cited

Jones, Rachyl. “The Creepy People Sitting Behind Home Plate Are Advertising a Movie.” Observer, 27 September 2022, Accessed 24 November 2022.

“Parker Finn.” IMDb, Accessed 25 November 2022.

“Smile.” Rotten Tomatoes, Accessed 24 November 2022.

“Smile (2022).” IMDb, Accessed 24 November 2022.

Smith, Morgan. “'Smile's Creepy Marketing Campaign Secures $22m Box Office Debut.” Highsnobiety, 3 October 2022, Accessed 24 November 2022.

Elizabeth Bentley is a senior at Poudre High School, and this is her first year at the Poudre Press. She writes The Occhiolism Operation, a movie review blog that you can check out here!

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