Smile; Grade: B-
Smile tells a story about a therapist named Dr. Rose Cotter (Sosie Bacon) encounters a patient, who has been seeing some kind of entity that no one else can see but her. This entity disguises itself as people, delivering an insanely creepy smile just haunting their victim. The patient freaked out as she saw the creepy entity closing in on her, forcing her to basically kill herself. As Dr. Rose Cotter is devastated to experience her patient dying right before her eyes… It looks like whatever her patient was experiencing, has now passed onto Dr. Rose as she now has experiencing this entity, haunting her with such a creepy smile.
I had low expectations for Smile: Didn’t watch a trailer, but looking at the poster or a small couple second clip… It reminded a whole lot of the 2018 horror film Truth or Dare. It also doesn’t help being in a fully crowded theater at 9:20, knowing the occasion of this night is a high school Homecoming was going on, so I was bound to experience obnoxious loud kids. Fortunately everything going against this film… Smile wasn’t half bad.
Smile has a main theme involved with people struggling with Depression, Anxiety, Suicide Tendencies that is caused by Guilt, Trauma, and Shame as I gotta say as a mainstream studio film it actually delivered that theme appropriately. Mostly independent films take on this theme, so going about a mainstream approach with it can be risky, but I felt the horror element within the theme was delivered correctly where it can be effective in terms of feeling a subtle unsettling feeling of disturbance here and there.
Especially while we’re uncovering a character like Dr. Rose whom we felt had it all together handling patients with extreme measures, but it turns out she’s as troubled as the rest of them. The film does a matured job in uncovering the layers of one handling their demons of trauma head on, as it’s a brutal process. The character development of Dr. Rose was nicely done, I can say viewers will be delighted that they can relate to a character like this, as they know exactly the terror this woman is going through as we’ve all been in that dark place before.
The film does a nice job in showing how devastating it is, to not have people whom are there for you at your darkest hour. You look what is going on in Dr. Rose’s life as she’s going through a severe mental breakdown, experiencing this entity as almost every single person, whether it be Rose’s family or friends… They become completely absent when she needs them the most. It’s an immense struggle to take on depression as a whole, but to go at it alone where you thought your loved ones were genuinely there for you at any given moment… It’s a horrible feeling, which is why it’s important to have people that truly care about you in your circle for better or for worse.
Story as a whole is a fairly constructed written tale. What is an underrated part that I actually liked from this film, is the film’s whole 180 in the finale… Sure the film could’ve went into a more crowd pleasing direction, however that’s the whole nightmare of having depression for some as I felt that plot twist was kind of neat.
As far as the creature design of the entity… Kind of mixed with it. It felt like a typical design you would see from the likes of a paranormal mainstream horror film design, I don’t know where I’ve seen this design from previous films, but it looks so familiar. However: I felt the whole transformation at the very end… That was effective in terms of creepiness, I thought that whole design was pretty NIOCE!
I do have a couple flaws with this film. Horror element I was annoyed with the jump scares, I thought majority of them were poorly executed with leaving me at a bored state of mind. I thought Jesse T. Usher playing the married partner of Dr. Rose had a pretty terrible performance, every sequence he appeared extremely weak in every line of dialogue he delivered. Pretty much was a buzz kill for this film, I understand his character is an unlikable character, but good grief for the characters description I wasn’t buying any of it.
Overall, Smile was a fairly decent film. I recommend checking this one out, it’s a nice date night kind of film. -Mitch Smietana