This can’t be happy all the time.
I’m mixed about my experience with “Smile,” a horror film that’s sure to bring horror moths in time for the Halloween month. It has its ideas and performances to reel us in, but parts of it feel exhausting.
Let me get to the concept, so I can clarify.
The “Smile” regards to an evil force that takes control of people. A person witnesses a person making a wicked smile before committing suicide. Now, that person becomes haunted, and sees that spirit until it decides to possess him/her.
If you see this smile, you’re screwed.
It’s obvious that when a witness becomes a victim, then he/she is poised to look and appear to act crazy in front of other people. I wouldn’t blame them, considering that most of us are afraid of being killed. But it feels too cliched for me to adapt well to to the story.
In fact, I’ve been saying that the nonbelievers live in reality, and what the horror victim deals with isn’t supposed to be reality, but a fantasy. We live in reality, so fantasies are usually supposed to be unbelievable.
The victim of this sinister force is a psychiatrist named Rose Cotter (Sosie Bacon, daughter of Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgewick), who tries to help out a patient (Caitlin Stasey), until she loses her mind, smiles, and kills herself.
Then, she begins to see the force, and nobody believes her. Not her fiancée Trevor (Jessie T. Usher, not her older sister Holly (Gillian Zinser), even her former psychiatrist Dr. Madeline Northcott (Robin Weigert) thinks she needs help.
They have their reasons why they think Rose is crazy. One of them regards her working too much, which is why her kind boss (Kal Penn) decides to give her a week off. Just to clear her head. But with this smiling nightmare, how can she? She can barely get any sleep, which would make her look crazier to society.
But only the detective Joel (Kyle Gallner) is reluctant enough to help her get to the bottom of the horrors. That’s why she’s able to speak with the only victim to survive the nightmares (Rob Morgan). Survive physically, of course.
Writer/director Parker Finn based “Smile” on his short film “Laura Hasn’t Sleep,” and boy, Rose looks like she hasn’t sleep in days. Bacon does a good job at convincing us of her mental state. I’ve never heard of this young actress, whose credits include “As We See It,” “The Last Summer,” and “Loverboy,” but she still makes us concerned about whether or not the evil smile will kill her.
And the supporting actors I did like consist of Gallner, who transitions from a detective trying to hit on the main heroine to a detective, who can’t be dealing with her behavior; Morgan, who delivers his interview scene with great intensity; and Penn, who can prove he’s more than just the “Harold & Kumar” and “Van Wilder” star we grew up with.
But the problem with this movie is that it sees too many movies about evils consuming someone’s mental state. The smiles from other victims keep us at the edge of our seats. It’s like something out of “Nightmare on Elm Street,” “It,” or “The Shining,” if you look closely enough. But why do we need all these cliches regarding the nonbelievers I’ve mentioned? Because as I said: these people live in reality, and aren’t supposed to believe that a fantasy takes place, no matter the provocation. It just feels exhausting to me. I’m sorry, but it’s true.
This movie has the potential to freak us out, and there are a number of freaky things-really freaky things-but I could do without those particular formulas. Half the time I was smiling, other times, it was upside down.