Overlong at 115 minutes, but satisfyingly dreadful and imaginative with the creature effects and make-up work, Smile resembles any number of J-Horror films over the past 25 years – everything from Evil Dead Trap to Ringu – and yet it somehow manages to feel refreshingly original in its own genre.
A curse follows a young psychiatrist.
A disturbed young woman walks into a psychiatric hospital for emergency care, and the assigned doctor – Rose Cotter (Sosie Bacon) – believes the woman is having hallucinations, but when the woman commits suicide right in front of her with a rictus grin on her face, Rose is stunned and at a loss with how to deal with what she’s just witnessed. Ordered to take a week off, Rose almost immediately begins feeling haunted and cursed by something that the deceased woman said to her just before killing herself – that she was seeing something that wasn’t human take the shape of people and taunting her that she was going to die. Rose, too, begins to see horrible apparitions and within a few days ghastly things start occurring … like her cat ends up dead in her nephew’s birthday present package instead of the toy she bought him. With her sanity quickly unraveling, she turns to her ex-boyfriend, a detective (Kyle Gallner), who based on Rose’s accounts, begins to piece together an impossible string of related suicides and killings, all which seem to connect to a curse involving trauma, and where all the victims end up on a slab with deathly grins on their faces. With only a few days left before Rose finds herself dead just like all the others, she desperately tries to solve the curse alongside her detective friend.
Overlong at 115 minutes, but satisfyingly dreadful and imaginative with the creature effects and make-up work, Smile resembles any number of J-Horror films over the past 25 years – everything from Evil Dead Trap to Ringu – and yet it somehow manages to feel refreshingly original in its own genre. The cast is up to the task of reacting and behaving desperate, and writer / director Parker Finn – while not quite on a master’s level of filmmakers like Craven, Carpenter, or whichever stellar horror filmmaker has come before him – draws up a dreadful pallet of pain, suffering, and fear that works for a mainstream audience. I prefer my horror films to be a little more “fun,” and while this one is far from that, it delivers its scares pretty well.
Paramount’s recent Blu-ray release of Smile comes with a digital code, plus the short film that the movie was expanded on. Also included are a commentary by Finn, deleted scenes, and a feature on the score.