“Smile” Movie Review

Story posted October 11, 2022 in CommRadio, Arts & Entertainment by Brennan Leahy

If people want to be guessing what is real and what is elusive, then “Smile” will have viewers guessing what is real and what is fake. This film is a thriller fanatic’s dream.

The horror and psychological film stars Sosie Bacon, Jessie Usher and many more. “Smile” is directed by Parker Finn who, is also the director of “The Hidebehind” and “Laura Hasn’t Slept.”

Smile involves Dr. Rose Cotter (Sosie Bacon) dealing with traumatic horrific experiences after witnessing her patient suffer a painful incident. She begins to witness traumatic experiences which shifts the plot into overdrive.

She starts to see people from her past as well as starts to hear bizarre noises all around her while at home and everywhere else. Rose speaks to police officer Joel (Kyle Gallner) after the incident with patient Laura Weaver (Caitlin Stasey).

Rose also experiences creepy encounters with ghostly figures displayed as her deceased mother. As Rose’s curiosity gets the best of her, she encounters delusions created by this evil entity that takes the form of people she is around.

After experiencing these vicious horrific attacks, Rose decides to see her old therapist Dr. Madeline Northcott (Robin Weigert). Later, throughout the film, Rose desperately tries to find a way to get rid of this “cursed entity” and continues to face her traumatic past along the way.

All the actors embraced their characters with a full spectrum of emotions and physical reactions. Bacon truly outdoes herself while portraying Dr. Rose Cotter with her realistic reactions to someone going absolutely insane.

At the beginning of the film, she portrays confidence and keeps her character's composure, but as soon as her characters begin to see things, this is where Bacon’s acting genuinely shines. As her character starts to see and experience the illusions, Bacon displays perfect body language to someone with paranoia and insomnia like the trembling in her voice when her character tries to explain to everyone what events have been happening to her.

The audience can tell that Bacon did her research on various mental illnesses in order to have an accurate execution of the role. In the one scene where she begins to break down after she is meeting with another character and breaks down crying and screaming as she is being tortured with the reality being that she can never tell when something is really happening or not.

Just like Bacon, Caitlin Stasey showed off a wide range of talent with her side character Laura Weaver. Even though Stacey's character was only at the beginning of the film, she displayed a wide range of characters going from being a terrified college student to a menacing smiling person. Stasey projected excellent facial expressions making the audience in the theater uneased by her reactions after being possessed by the entity.

Other actors such as Kyle Gallner play his character perfectly as a friendly detective willing to assist Bacon’s character throughout the film. By playing the sensitive and helpful detective, Gallner utilizes his character’s background and because of this, it added a misanthropic layer to the film since his character undergoes a vivid experience.

While the actors acting and playing on their characters are a major positive of the film, the other aspect that viewers can witness from the film was the use of sound and imagery. The sounds that Finn used can be described as eerie as well as someone’s nightmare fuel to give themselves goosebumps.

The chilling sounds causes audience members to sink into their seats and make everyone uncomfortable. The sounds can be closely related to scratching echoing noises and the usage of rusty piano chords, and were portrayed when the entity would enter the scene or after taking over a character within the scene towards Rose.

Some examples of the imagery that created a disturbing presence in the film were during Rose’s vision at the hospital where she repeatedly stabbed her patient earlier in the film, Carl Renken (Jack Sochet). It shows off how deep and realistic the stabs looked in Carl’s body, and then witnessed her boss and coworker Dr. Morgan Desai (Kal Penn) rip his entire face off showing a realistic visual of muscle and tissue in the face.

This scene made people in the theater screech at the shock factor of what had happened in that scene because of the realistic and ill-looking affects the characters exhibited.

Some may find the beginning of this film a bit slow at first except for the first ten minutes with the scene between Sosie Bacon and Caitlin Stasey. The movie is really tense and can make the audience very uneasy because of the psychological thrill behind each scene that the entity was involved in.

The ending of this film is what made it work because it was so unsettling.

Once again, if audiences are into being truly scared visually and psychologically, “Smile” is the right film for them to get your fright on.

Rating: 4/5 stars

Brennan Leahy is a third-year majoring in Public Relations / Advertising. To contact him, email bal5440@psu.edu.