Title – Smile (2022)
Director – Parker Finn (feature debut)
Cast – Sosie Bacon, Jessie T. Usher, Kyle Gallner, Kal Penn, Caitlin Stacey
Plot – Caring pychiatrist Rose Cotter (Bacon) begins to experience terrifying encounters with a nefarious entity after she witnesses the horrifying suicide of one of her patients who claims she was being stalked by a similar force.
“Once you see it, it’s too late”
Review by Eddie on 09/12/2022
In a year with few and far between pleasent stories arising out of the current state of the global box office performance of cinematic releases, one of the genuinely surprising results stems from Parker Finn’s feature length debut Smile.
An extenuation of his short film Laura Hasn’t Slept, Finn’s film was originally planned to be a direct to streaming affair that at the last minute was given a shot at a cinematic run by its studio Paramount who look like geniuses with Smile grossing more than $200 million worldwide against a miniscule budget of $17 million with Finn’s film not only earning interest from audiences but also critics who were taken aback by a genre film that for all intents and purposes seemed like nothing more than a cheap cash grab reaching for low hanging fruit.
Taking a relatively familiar set-up but exploring it in a way that offers both some excitment and thrills/chills while filming it in a way that feels slightly above what you would expect from such a jaunt (hats off to cinematographer Charlie Sarroff), Finn draws a lot from the simple set-up of Sosie Bacon’s kindly pychiatrist Rose Cotter dealing with the aftermath of a grissly patient suicide that has thrown her life into chaos and dispear when it appears that an entity behind the patients death has latched itself onto Rose as she battles to maintain her sanity and her relationships, that includes her worried boyfriend A-Train (aka Jessie T. Usher).
On paper there’s no reason why this plotline or idea should be more than a mildly amusing venture at best but thanks to Finns energetic direction, committed lead turn from Bacon in her best role yet and affective and unnerving horror elements (perhaps fans of felines should steer clear from the film), Smile keeps us engaged throughout as Rose begins to understand more about what is unraveling her life why we the audience wonder if we will ever look at someone smiling in the same way again.
At days end there is nothing groundbreaking about Smile or the ground it covers but if nothing else Finn’s strong debut once more showcases what can be done with a minminal budget, some enthuisiasm and strong understanding of the genre one works in with Smile proving that amongst all the doom and gloom audiences are willing to support movies that offer up what they promise and that cinema is alive when the right material is there to support.
Final Say –
Another nice horror story from 2022, Smile offers up one of the years most surprisingly effective outings that breaks no new ground but provides the exact type of experience many will be wanting from a chilling outing that will have you on the edge of your seat throughout.
3 1/2 terrible birthday presents out of 5