Dir. Parker Finn
Reviewer. Martyn Wakefield
Every once in a while a film comes along to garner critical acclaim from horror lovers and cinema fans alike. SMILE may appear to be a return to teen horror territory but is so much more mature than any trailer would have you believe and works so well as an effective reflection of anxiety but is never afraid to commit to putting both feet into the waters of the supernatural.
After witnessing a bizarre, traumatic incident involving a patient, Dr. Rose Cotter (Sosie Bacon) starts experiencing frightening occurrences that she can't explain. Rose must confront her troubling past in order to survive and escape her horrifying new reality.
SMILE is never as fun as its grimacing faces may want you to be and as such may alienate those looking for an escape but instead is a constant downward spiral of dread and hopelessness that never lets go. Bacon is a fantastic lead balancing traumatic, rational, and downright broken spells of sheer madness that make this journey so engaging despite the droning echoes of Cristobal Tapia de Veer's nauseating score (his work on UTOPIA is sensed throughout).
Cotter's journey from helper to needing help is an emotional driver to allow her character to really absorb the fear this haunting curse has on her and as she sees more the world between reality and invention folds in on itself. Unlike other films that go down this path, CENSOR and SAINT MAUD are key similes, SMILE never wanders too far as to explain everything away and in doing so gives us a new monster to fear, one that welcomes you with a smile.
Parker Finn has taken the minimal threat possible and made it a menacing fear for anyone passing a glancing smile. The static camerawork and play with the scenery helps create further terror and some iconic imagery in one of this year's most memorable horror films.