Posted on: October 16, 2022 Posted by: Glacier Staff Comments: 0

Photo from the film ‘Smile’

It’s been impossible to escape advertisements on social media for director Parker Finn’s psychological horror film “Smile.” The money spent on advertising may have been just as much as on the movie itself, but I can’t deny that the creepy smiles in the ads made me intrigued.

Noor Awaidah

Assistant Arts & Entertainment Editor

The film follows Dr. Rose Cotter, a psychiatrist who has dedicated her whole life to her job. Despite having a career in which she deals with people, she’s still lonely. She has a tendency to push people away due to past trauma she hasn’t properly dealt with.

After bearing witness to yet another traumatic incident with her patient, Rose starts experiencing hallucinations of people wearing creepy smiles. As she searches for an explanation for the sinister smiles that follow her around, Rose is forced to face the music of her past.

The trailer for ‘Smile’ is harrowing without revealing too much of the plot.

I wasn’t expecting to enjoy this movie. The advertising felt overdone and cringe-y, so I assumed the film would be the same. However, Finn does a good job exploring themes of trauma and mental illness.

The lead actor, Sosie Bacon, does a fantastic job navigating such difficult themes. Her fear and desperation is palpable on screen, but is never overdone.

In terms of screams, Bacon has one that belongs in the Horror Hall of Fame. It’s not a pretty scream, but a jarring one that conveys true terror. 

The horror is a combination of jump scares and unsettling music. Many of the scares can be anticipated, but if you’re someone like me who is easily startled, they might be just enough to induce nightmares.

Rose’s descent into madness builds along with each jump scare, becoming more and more gruesome. So, if blood and gore isn’t for you, maybe skip this film because there are some haunting images you might not be able to stomach. 

Soundtracks can make or break a film, and “Smile” navigates this obstacle seamlessly. The title sequence is accompanied by music rhythmically similar to that of an alarm clock. Though the sound of an alarm clock going off is not particularly terrifying, it awakens feelings of anxiousness that coincide well with the exploration of mental illness.

Dialogue intermingled with acoustic music in the background makes for a chilling experience. For example, one character chants, “You’re going to die!” to the beat of the music, making much of the audience watch through parted fingers. 

Without spoiling too much, I’d have to say the ending is not expected and even a little disappointing, but that may be the desired effect. Considering this is Parker Finn’s debut film, it’s a pretty grand entrance into the horror film industry. 

Overall, “Smile” is an enjoyable experience that I would give a solid 3.5 stars.