Review: Smile (2022)

2014’s It Follows was an indie movie darling. The frightening film about a deadly curse that’s passed to people through sex took the horror genre by storm. The creature/entity/spirit in the film can only be seen by the potential victims. Parker Finn’s Smile has a similar premise and is just as disturbing and gruesome.

Smile follows Dr. Rose Cotter (Sosie Bacon) – a therapist working in the psychiatric wing of a hospital. After she’s visited by a patient that explains she’s being seeing a thing she can’t really describe but it can look like anyone. She tells Rose this thing has the worst looking smile she’s ever seen. After the patient screams like she’s being attacked, Rose goes to call for help. When she turns around, the patient is standing and smiling right before kills herself.

Shortly after witnessing her patient’s death, Rose begins experiencing the same things her patient told her about. Rose attempts  to find a link to what’s happening to her and what happened to her patient – unfortunately Rose’s life is slowly unraveling when it starts to be consumed by this terror.

Smile is a delightful horror film. Just like It Follows, part of what makes the story so unnerving is having a terror that only the victims can see. The protagonist is fighting two battles – one against the entity and the other against their own mind/sanity.

Parker Finn’s screenplay and direction are what sets this film a part. After Rose becomes the target of the entity, Finn turns her normal every day interactions like meeting with her therapist, talking to her husband (played by Jesse T Usher), or going to her nephews birthday party into real life nightmares.  The birthday party sequence is one of the best scenes in the movie. Even if you know what’s coming, it’s still really good.

Finn is excellent at filling the most mundane interactions with so much tension and fear; it keeps audiences on their toes for the entire film. There are also some incredible jump scares and disturbing visuals for horror fans that love that kind of stuff.

The promo and trailers for Smile make the film look silly but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Smile is a rollercoaster of fear and tension from beginning to end. It’s a fascinating story about how trauma connects people wrapped in a horrifying story that is guaranteed to give you chills.

Grade: B+