SMILE [Grade: 89.99%]

Director: Parker Finn

Story By: Parker Finn

Cast: Sosie Bacon, Jessie T. Usher, Kyle Gallner, Gillian Zinser, Robin Weigert, Nick Arapoglou, Judy Reyes, Rob Morgan, Kal Penn, and Caitlin Stasey

* * *

I haven’t been this surprisingly and genuinely satisfied with a horror film since Drag Me To Hell. 

* * *

Theme & Story: A

Pacing: A

Character: A-

Overall “Paper” Score: A

* * *

Entertainment Factors

General Public: Worth the $$

Psychological Horror Fans: Worth the $$

Viewing Experience (Visuals &/or Score): Interesting Enough

Overall “Viewing Experience” Score: Interesting Enough

* * *


1. A life threatening curse is passed on to a therapist after witnessing a particular form of death in a peculiar way. This is Smile. 

The messaging that stood out for me was this exaggerated take on the ways trauma/traumatic experiences can not only leave us vulnerable in many ways, but also push some of us into really dangerous and/or life threatening mental states/states of existing/habits. The execution of the theme was one of the strongest I’ve seen in this genre. 👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾👍🏾

In terms of story strength, I found every Act to to be solid. Act One did a good job with setting up the main character just enough to provide and maintain an appropriate level of eeriness, while also quickly bringing the curse into the mix. 👍🏾

Act Two brought the curse and our main character together adding new tensions to the story, and elevating the horror component overall. It’s also where the theme is unpacked more through our main character. 👍🏾

And Act Three was just really engaging, and brings some closure to the theme which says a lot about the overall thematic followthrough for me. 👍🏾

2. Yeeesssss Jessie T. Usher! 😩😍

3. Look… that birthday party scene! I was on edge the moment she arrived. 🫢🫢🫢

4. That MF ending! 👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾

5. With a runtime of about 105 minutes, Smile kept me hooked from beginning to end. I felt like every intention with the story and theme was paced out purposefully for both eeriness and careful followthrough, especially when it came to learning more about Rose and the trauma she’s dealing with in addition to the newly added traumatic experience. 👍🏾👍🏾

6. Yeah, them smiles were definitely creepy. 🙈

7. KAL! 🙌🏾

8. Rose’s truth in Act Three! 🫢

9. The camera work was absolutely amazing! 👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾🙌🏾

10. Sosie Bacon was a great character to lead this story. Her expressions and anxious performance added to my viewing experience keeping me on edge with her, and frustrated when she was frustrated. Additionally, her character also had pretty solid thematic followthrough. I think my only issue with her character was her final monologue. What she said vs where/who she was when the film started just didn’t make sense, and it felt a little random and slightly forced to try and provide some explanation for her character when it really wasn’t needed. 🤷🏾‍♂️👍🏾

Outside of Sosie, I really liked the character Greg. He was so funny in a very authentic way. 👍🏾

* * *

Overall #Smile gives Sixth Sense – meets Final Destination – meets The Possession – meets Drag Me To Hell

This was really SO GOOD! I mean, I even loved the opening title visual! I think what I appreciated most about this film was its take on the theme and really blowing up that idea of trauma. I also appreciated the ending, as did the rest of the theater (SN: The folks in my theater were so funny, but super engaged and seemed to be enjoying the experience).

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