There’s something fascinating about these horror movies whose premise wouldn’t logically hold up, but still manage to prove themselves effective. Effective enough, certainly, to keep this journalist awake. Smiledirected and written by Parker Finn, is one such film.
Accustomed to working with people suffering from serious psychological problems, Dr. Rose Cotter is confronted with Laura Weaver, a young woman who witnessed, a few days earlier, the violent suicide of a university professor, when he died. is hit on the head with a hammer.
Laura will take her own life just a few minutes after meeting the psychologist. Traumatized by what she describes as a mysterious figure displaying an unhealthy, even demonic smile, she eventually appears possessed by, well, something, and will use a ceramic shard to kill herself…while still smiling.
Clearly terrified, Rose will gradually be pursued in turn by what looks like a monster taking on the appearance of various characters that are part of our heroine’s life.
But is it really a curse? What we discover is that Rose drags the trauma of the death of her mother, whose body she discovered when she was young. The film also tries to navigate between two realities, a world where it is indeed a monster feeding on the trauma of its victims, and another where it is more a question of mental health and long plunge into madness.
Be that as it may, the evil entity – real or imagined – will in turn evoke The Ring and ItFollows. The first, because the main character tries to understand the origins and functioning of the monster; the second because this demon can take on the appearance of anyone, including people known to the victims.
It must be admitted, however, that Smiledespite its interesting exploration of mental health issues and trauma, never manages to create this world where the moviegoer really wonders if they are being told about a monster, or if it is indeed about mental illness.
As for the principles borrowed from The Ring and ItFollowsthese are not exploited well enough to make the thing minimally believable or, on the contrary, terrifying enough to make the viewer find themselves on the end of their seat… and no, the jump scares do not represent a sufficiently complete cinematographic technique, on its own, to carry the film.
Of course, it is not necessary that the film has a realistic scenario, or that its actors are good – although Sosie Bacon offers a very effective performance -, to achieve the ultimate objective: to scare. Oh, it’s not about scaring during the film (and one scene will rather make you burst out laughing), but after the film.
Talk to this journalist, who may think it’s all a movie, but who, in a corner of his brain, still fears that a monster will appear from a dark corner, at the end of the evening…