Smile Review

Photo from IMDb

Photo from IMDb

Lola Gagich, Staff Writer

Smile! But maybe don’t, in Parker Finn’s new movie, Smile, smiling may become something you want to avoid. Warning: This article contains spoilers!

We start the movie by showing a woman laying in a cluttered room, dying. The camera pans over to a little girl, staring in horror. Then, it cuts many years forward. The little girl is now an adult, named Rose, played by Sosie Bacon, working in a psych ward at a hospital. She first meets with a man in a seemingly manic state, repeating how everyone dies and no one can do anything about it. After visiting him, she is sent to a new patient, Laura, played by Caitlin Stasey, who’s been brought in for public disturbance. She tells Rose about an entity she’s been seeing. She states it began after seeing a college professor bludgeon himself with a hammer to death. Laura states the entity “wears people’s faces” and they have a hair-raising smiles. Rose, trying to de-escalate, watches as all a sudden Laura begins screaming saying the entity is there. Rose runs to the phone to call for help, but by the time she turns back around, things have already gone awry. Rose follows a broken vase up to Laura’s face, now with a grimacing smile. Laura then uses a vase shard to cut her neck in the shape of a smile, maintaining eye contact with Rose the whole time. Laura drops to the ground, still smiling. 

Then begins the title card. The word “Smile” is accompanied by very loud cacophonous music and red black and white flashing behind it. This adds to the already unsettling opening, then it goes back to the chain of events. After the body is carried away, Rose walks out to the lobby to see her ex-boyfriend, Joel, played by Kyle Gallner. Joel and his partner are cops investigating her death. Joel awkwardly interviews Rose and then leaves. Rose goes home shaken and is met by her cat, Moustache. As she stands pouring a glass of wine in a mainly dark kitchen, she looks over to see Laura smiling at her in the dark. She stands in horror and suddenly something slams. Rose drops the glass in fear, only to see her fiance, Trevor, played by Jessie T. Usher, has just walked in. He notices how jumpy she is and asks what happened. She tells him about how someone died in front of her at work and Trevor comforts her. They then go to dinner with Rose’s sister, Holly, played by Gillian Zinzer, and her husband, Greg, played by Nick Arapoglou. They mention their son, Jackson’s birthday party, and ask that since Rose has to work if she could get him a gift. Specifically, they say he likes toy trains. 

The next day Rose comes to work and goes to visit Carl, the manic patient from the day before. He is now smiling and saying “you’re going to die” to Rose. He approaches her and she calls for assistance, only to be snapped out of her hallucination to see Carl laying on his bed screaming as the security guards grab him. Rose is then brought to her boss, Dr. Desai, played by Kal Penn, and he gives her a week of paid leave. On the way home, she stops and buys a toy train for Jackson. As she enters her house, she is not greeted at the door by the cat as she was the day before. Rose doesn’t seem to notice the cat’s absence and goes to wrap the gift. She is stopped by the security alarm going off, though. She then receives a call from the company asking if everything was alright. Rose notices the back door is open but states that she is in the home alone. The operator then asks if she’s sure and if she knows for a fact she didn’t “bring anything in with her.” Rose then realizes the woman on the phone is not an operator. The woman on the phone then tells her to look behind her but she refuses. She is then brought out of her trance by a call from the actual security company. It then cuts to the police telling Rose it seems everything is secure and Trevor arrives. He asks what happened and the police explained the security alarm probably had a false alarm. Him and Rose go back inside and finally realize Moustache is missing. They look around and assume the cat will come back eventually. 

The next day, the day of the birthday party, Rose watches as Jackson opens his gifts. He gets to Rose’s and opens it, the rest of the party watching confusedly as he slowly becomes distraught. He lifts the gift out, and instead of the train Rose wrapped, Moustache’s bloody carcass is in his hands. Rose stares in shock as people begin to scream. She cradles Moustache and swears she didn’t put it in there as she looks around at the party gathered around her. She then sees a parent whose face has now morphed into Laura’s, smiling at her. She shrieks and steps back, into a glass table. This causes her to severely injure her arms. 

The next thing we see is Rose in the hospital with her arms bandaged. Holly is standing outside talking angrily to a surprised Trevor. In comes Dr. Desai, with a worried look on his face. They discuss what happened, although Rose doesn’t tell the exact truth. On the way home, Rose pleads with Trevor to believe her about Moustache. However, Trevor is not convinced and begins to fear her. Rose then meets with her therapist, Dr. Norcott, played by Robin Weigert. 

Rose, tired of her confusion and disturbing episodes begins to research. She plays the recording of her meeting with Laura and replays a strange noise after Laura’s death. She plays it until we are met with the movie’s first big jumpscare. She then researches the professor responsible for Laura’s hallucinations. She finds his widow, Victoria, and learns that the professor’s hallucinations also began after witnessing a suicide by a woman named Anna Powell. Rose states she is experiencing the same thing and Victoria kicks her out, thinking she is mocking the man’s death. 

Rose then contacts Joel in hopes of viewing police records to see how far back the chain goes. They then see the chain goes back extremely far. However, they find a break in the chain with a man named Robery Talley, played by Rob Morgan. Instead of suicide, he committed a murder, and the chain resumed with the person who witnessed the murder. They plan to visit him. 

Before they meet with the man that escaped the chain, Rose attempts to apologize to Holly again. Holly rejects her apology and asks Rose to leave. Before driving away, Rose sits in her car for a minute and waits as Holly seems to be walking back out to her, but this is yet another jumpscare from the entity. 

Joel and Rose then go to visit Robert and Rose explains she visited him to help a client rather than for herself. After hearing the entity feeds off of trauma and this is why he committed the murder. Rose exclaims that she can’t kill anyone and reveals it is her that’s cursed. Robert screams and gets carried away yelling for her to leave. 

When Rose gets home, Dr. Norcott is waiting at the door. She lets her in and they begin to talk, but Rose is quickly aware this is not the real Dr. Norcott as the real Dr. Norcott calls her at that moment. The entity smiles at her and tells her time is coming. 

Rose, worried she has to confront this, enters her work with a knife. She visits Carl, who begins screaming. We quickly realize, however, this is another hallucination as Rose “murders” Carl in a very exaggerated way. She is awoken from this trance by Dr. Desai who asks why she is at work. Rose remains very brief and drives away, but not before Dr. Desai sees the knife in her car. 

Rose then travels to her childhood home, rundown and abandoned. She calls Joel and tells him she is isolating herself to prevent it from spreading. She sits there until it is dark which is when the entity appears. It comes to her as a very tall version of the woman from the very beginning, who we now see is Rose’s mother, with the grin still on her face. Rose defeats it by burning the house down and seeks sanctuary with Joel. She asks if she can stay with him and says she finally got rid of it. Joel then flashes a smile and says she can never get rid of it. 

We then see Rose realize this was another dream and she is still at the house. As Joel struggles to enter the house to save Rose, he sees her being overtaken by the entity and watches in terror as Rose douses herself in kerosene and lights herself on fire, smiling. 

This movie all in all was pretty good. The jumpscares were shocking and I literally screamed in the theater multiple times. This movie is rated R, so most Saugus students will need to bring an adult, but it’s worth the watch if you like a little adrenaline. Besides watching in theaters, Smile is available on Paramount + with a subscription.  However, I went twice, and when you can predict the jump scares and actually focus on the movie, it’s not all that good. The CGI is very low effort and the acting isn’t great from the side characters. Overall, mainstream reviewers gave these reviews: Rotten Tomatoes (78%), Metacritic (68%) Parent Previews (0.5/5) IMBD (6.9/10). I give it a (3.5/5). Sophomore Sophie Maldonado had this to say “It’s very intense and scary. The unexpected jumpscares keep you on the edge of your seat… I would rate it a 4/5 and recommend seeing it.“ This movie’s popularity is pretty justified in my opinion as it puts horror really in its simplest form, the unexpected, in multiple ways.