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Movie Review

‘Smile’ slow and scary

Published:Friday | October 21, 2022 | 12:06 AMDamian Levy/Gleaner Writer
Sosie Bacon stars as Dr Rose Cotter in the horror thriller, ‘Smile’.
Sosie Bacon stars as Dr Rose Cotter in the horror thriller, ‘Smile’.

Sometimes, you’re just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Dr Rose Cotter was simply going about her day, when a new patient presented in the throes of what seemed to be a psychotic episode. She describes hallucinations, faces of ordinary people with a sinister grin. Rose tries to make sense of what she’s saying but before she knows it, she starts to see smiles everywhere. If she doesn’t act fast, Rose may suffer the same fate of her patient: doomed to madness and certain death.

While Rose has to race against the clock, Smile is a movie that takes its time. As her reality becomes more untenable, Rose has trouble getting her closest allies to take her seriously. The descent into madness is painstaking with Rose incrementally unable to discern reality from fiction. With its slow pace Smile leans into building tension right up to the breaking point. Rose’s day-to-day gets jarringly interrupted when she’s confronted with horrors that are sure to make the audience jump to the edge of their seats.

For a genre that’s defined by shocking moments, horror films sure do have a bevy of tropes and cliches they like to trod out. Smile has an intriguing mystery, with a Ring-esque curse that passes from person to person, with only days before it takes a new victim. At one point the film seems to be using its familiar elements as a vessel for a message about confronting past trauma.

The film even goes out of its way to apply the correct terminology for suicide. Rose appropriately describes a victim as having “died by suicide” as opposed to having committed a heinous crime. It’s got lofty ambitions, but Smile never quite sticks the landing. Rose is a character you root for, but her story gets abandoned for the sake of the film’s cynicism.

I found the film’s end to be underwhelming, and after a while the movie’s constant jump scares wore out their welcome. Still, Smile is appropriately frightening, and is certainly worth a watch. The effects are disgustingly devious, and effectively stomach turning. Sosie Bacon’s portrayal of a woman of science slowly being driven mad by a supernatural force is extremely well done and anchors the movie. I didn’t walk out the cinema with a grin, but I did manage a smirk.

Rating: Half Price

Damian Levy is a film critic and podcaster for Damian Michael Movies.