Reed Alexander's Horror Review of 'Smile' (2022)
Had me frowning more than anything...
This movie was just really poorly cut. This is actually becoming a problem with horror movies in general as more and more of them try and reach for that two hour limit instead of the traditional hour and a half. This one, for instance, was an hour and fifty-five, and honestly it was really only about an hour and thirty of good cinema. They could have cut about thirty minutes, at least, in scenes that were practically just dead air. The pacing is way off and honestly, it's like my complaint of The Block Island Sound (2020). There is too much time between things actually happening. Sure, eventually it takes off, but for the most part it just lags. It feels like more and more movies should be failing my 30 Minute Rule for the collective time they spend meandering between the plot. Yes, shit is technically happening, but it's to little and to far between.
But you know what this movie got so damn right? The atmosphere. Sound, lighting, filters, even some FX. Now, the first half depended WAY the fuck too much on shameless jump scares. They were just throwing them out left and right. The thing is, it didn't even need them. The tension was already there without that silly gimmick. NONE OF WHICH WORKED!! In fact, the damn jumpscares almost ruined the tension, because it was actually interrupting the tension as it was building. Imagine fucking a guy who would pop before you were ready, every time. However, the movie actually figures this shit out towards the end and leans HARD on what it was already doing right. So, for the first half, it really irritated the shit out of me, but in the second half, it redeemed itself.
The acting was pretty good. Rose Cotter, plaid by Sosie Bacon, has a slow descent into madness that is absolutely on point. It is so good to watch her just absolutely crumble under the stress of the plot. I mean she does nervous breakdowns like few others. Some fucking academy award shit. Everyone else was... okay. Better than you'd expect for horror. Her character made some pretty weird choices I'm going to have to talk about in the spoilers, but she sold them even though they didn't really make sense in the plot.
Speaking of plot, the story and premise are actually quite brilliant. It's similar to It Follows (2014), as it's a curse that is passed person to person through a specific ritual. This time, instead of fucking, it's through experiencing trauma. It torments the individual it's been passed along to, until it basically possesses them, then it has them kill themselves in a horrific way, to traumatize another individual who it then gets passed to. Neat. Also pretty streamlined, leaving fewer questions than It Follows. I'd also like to point out that Smile and It Follows are two movies that fit into the pattern of the mythos from Don't Kill It (2016), so they now all technically happen in the same universe.
I will recommend this movie, only because the plot is interesting, not to mention the tension and atmosphere are superb. The movie might irritate the shit out of you, but it will still be worth it. Unless you're super into shameless jump scares, then you'll love it.
Okay, so Rose gets completely gaslighted by her boyfriend, and it's not that she doesn't sound crazy, it's the way he makes it all about himself. This sets off a confrontation with him where she finally tells him what she really thinks about their relationship. Now putting that in perspective, she turns to her sister who is WAY worse than her boyfriend and begs her for help. This comes off as padding for two reasons. One, we don't need the scene. The circumstances have already led to her unload on the people around her. We got that scene when she told off her boyfriend. Two, her sister has already basically forsaken her at this point, and we know that. So she had no reason to go back to her. Three, you're telling me the woman who just blew up on her shitty boyfriend is going to go to her vapid sister who she already hates for anything other than to just tell her right the fuck off? There is no fucking way she would have EVER gone to her sister for help. It made no sense. That, with a ton of extra fat, could have been cut.
But seriously, between the tension and the plot, this movie is worth at least one shot.
About the Creator
I'm the foulmouthed horror movie critic. I post new reviews every Sunday, so stay tuned =D
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