Friday, October 21, 2022

Movie Review: ‘Smile’ a disturbing surprise

By Matt Pascarella

Rated: R
Runtime: 1 hour, 55 minutes

In order to get the maximum screams for your buck, go into this movie knowing as little as possible. I honestly thought this would not affect me the way it did. I would put this in my top 20 favorite horror movies.

A doctor experiences a horrible incident and from that point on believes a malevolent spirit or force is coming for her in the form of smiling individuals. After doing some research, she finds that there have been several deaths and other traumas as a result of this possible force that was passed to her before she experienced the horrible incident. Is the doctor coming unhinged or is she onto something? Could there really be an evil presence that presents itself through smiling victims?

I realize that might sound stupid, but what I thought would be a not-so-scary overall disappointing horror movie (based on seeing only the trailer), turned out to leave me feeling anxious throughout. This was a very unsettling, albeit satisfactory horror movie, a good scare.

“Smile” stars Sosie Bacon, Jessie T. Usher, Caitlin Stasey, Kyle Gallner, Kal Penn, Robin Weigert, Rob Morgan and Gillian Zinser.

Dr. Rose Cutter (Bacon) sees patient Laura (Stasey) in the psychiatric unit of the hospital after Laura has experienced a violent act. Laura tells Rose it’s not a safe place for her; she is seeing something only she can see. It wears people’s faces like masks and smiles – not friendly smiles. Laura is screaming and completely beside herself.

Before Rose has a chance to intervene, things get very, very bad. And now Rose is beside herself. She is ordered by her boss (Penn) to take a week off.

Things only get progressively worse for her, and she decides to see a therapist (Weigert).

Rose is seeing and hearing things that she describes as a fleeting moment of stress-induced hallucinations.

When she tries to convince her family that an evil presence has attached itself to her, fiancé Trevor (Usher) and sister Holly (Zinser), don’t believe her.

Watch out for the birthday party scene.

More time goes by, and Rose is only getting worse. Trevor is worried about her. Rose is worried because mental illness runs in their family and her mother committed suicide several years back.

There are only two people who believe her: a police officer, Joel (Gallner) and an inmate who somehow escaped the “curse,” (Morgan). The inmate tells her the thing needs trauma to spread. There’s only one way to pass it on.

This movie left me nervous and dreading what was going to happen next. That’s kind of what I was looking for in a good horror movie; this one may have over-delivered.

This movie is heavy on the language. It’s pretty violent and there are a lot of frightening scenes. Plus, suicide is a theme. Parts of the movie are shocking, yet sometimes ridiculous.

I continually asked myself what was real and what was not. The ominous, haunting music only exacerbates the disturbing nature of this movie. Even the voices and booming echoes as the credits ran gave me a feeling of uneasiness. For the most part I found it unpredictable and messed up. As a Halloween movie night, I would see this one in the theater – preferably not alone.

Two toy trains up.

Now playing only in theaters. <

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