After witnessing a suicide, a therapist becomes haunted
by a malevolent smiling entity that only she can see.
Written and Directed by Parker Finn
Starring Sosie Bacon, Kyle Gallner, Jessie T. Usher,
Kal Penn, Robin Weigert, Caitlin Stasey, Gillian Zinser
Based on the 2020 short film "Laura Hasn't Slept"
When the first trailer debuted for Smile, I had a gut feeling. Not only did I know this was going to be creepy, but somehow I also knew it was going to be critically acclaimed. Lo and behold, I was right. Parker Finn's debut film is one for your nightmares, and it's built on such simplicity. Until the last ten minutes, all you ever see is an unsettling grin that shows up when you least expect it to. That kind of shit taps into our lizard brains and just scares the hell out of us.
It all starts with an act of kindness, which just hurts even more. Dr. Rose Cotter (Bacon), a therapist with her own baggage, tries to help a young woman who claims to be haunted by a smiling entity. Before Rose can do anything, the young woman panics and cuts her own throat, all with a giant grin on her face. Suddenly, Rose realizes she can now see whatever was haunting the girl, and it slowly starts to unravel her sanity and her entire life. The moments that this thing shows itself are downright unnerving, and once you see its true form, holy shit. Brace yourself. My only gripe is that you never learn exactly what this thing is, but that's just a personal issue. It doesn't hurt the movie at all.
Parker Finn is destined for great things in horror. It's been a banner year for horror debuts, what with this and Barbarian. I love that we're getting fresh blood in the director's chair across the board. Smile is a strong starter and a psychologically distressing film.