We have been getting a few horror gems this year with big box office successes such as Nope and Halloween Ends to video-on-demand hits like Hellraiser and Prey. So far Barbarian holds a high ranking for me this year. However, Smile caught my eye, and I must say it held my attention.
Smile is the 2022 film that stars Sosie Bacon, daughter of Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick as Dr. Rose Cotter. Dr. Rose is an ER psychologist who witnesses a traumatic suicide of a patient. The patient who after she recently witnesses the suicide of her professor, begins hallucinating and seeing visions of people not only smiling but some jacked up shit. Not long after, Dr. Rose, herself begins seeing horrific things and experiencing a similar psychosis as well.
**Before I continue, this movie does contain the topic of suicide & mental health so it can be triggering to some.**
Now what happens next is Sosie Bacon carries this film and she does more than be the typical frantic female character we see in these kinds of films. Her character tries to deal with this psychosis as a she’s a psychologist trying to not only explain her issues but deduct them so she doesn’t come off as crazy. It works because she’s well-versed in the subject matter… despite unraveling at the seams. She tries to act normal yet still acts beyond paranoid but freaks everyone out. The scene with the cat definitely shows this… if you know you know.
Dr. Rose also battles with her own trauma after she witnesses her mother’s overdose. She also fights with the guilt of it all as she didn’t call the ambulance for her mom, instead closing the door on her. This is what leads her to become a psychologist in the first place.
Now the plot isn’t as good as Hereditary or It Follows but the premise is better-executed Truth or Dare. So yeah it’s not an original concept with that whole curse thing. It had a lot of jumpscares but the sound work and effects do this film a lot of justice. And those jump scares got me a few times.
As mentioned, Smile also deals with the topic of childhood trauma as Dr. Cotter is the victim of such. But it also tackles the toxicity of everyday life. Rose has a toxic, bougie, bitchy sister who is just mean. She basically wants to sell their childhood home, complains about being a mother and sort of turns her nose up at Rose.
Rose’s fiancé who pretty much gaslights her experience since being afflicted with this entity.
He’s played by Jessie T. Usher (A-Train from The Boys). I don’t doubt he cares as he defends Dr. Rose from her bitchy sister and tries to enlist the help of a therapist. Still, he seems distant as he’s always at work and I also felt that his vision of having a perfect life together that prevented him from seeing that Dr. Rose was cursed not crazy.
She does find solace and help via her ex-boyfriend and cop played by Kyle Gallner.
He tries to help her solve a pattern of odd cases of suicides in order to help save her from the same fate. They figure out that everyone who witnesses a suicide, later kills themselves in front of someone else, which triggers a curse of trauma. So, the detective/ex decides to stay by her side to help put an end to it to save her. They even visit a prisoner who is the one person who “beat” the curse by committing homicide instead of suicide. It’s clear the detective is still in love with her but genuinely wants to help her through this.
Side note: I truly dig Kyle Gallner since his days on Veronica Mars and Smallville. He’s such an underrated and talented actor and I’m always glad to see the projects he’s in.
Her boss, “Kumar from Harold and Kumar” is believable too as her boss.
He’s worried about her overworking. Despite having to manage typical boss duties, he tries to support Dr. Rose in fear she’ll burn out. He even forces her to take paid time off following the traumatizing event with the patient. That being said, had she not taken on that last case with the suicidal patient instead of clocking out and going home, then none of this would be happening to her. He sees her unravel much like everyone else. One scene in particular is when he sees her outside in her car with a big knife in the passenger see.
What I hate about these films is the fact that people in these situations try to rationalize what’s going on by themselves before becoming completely unhinged. In real life, if I went through any of this craziness, I’m giving everyone a play-by-play. Like yup, I’m seeing shit that’s not real and something is not right… y’all need to help me. I think that’s what I dug about It Follows more than Smile. However, Dr. Rose does try to end the curse after finally realizing that she can’t beat it despite a major hiccup along the way.
Despite its flaws, the acting in this film is believable and some of the disturbing things and images stuck with me. I recommend streaming if you can even for Sosie Bacon alone. Smile is far from perfect but it is a well put together jump fest that keeps you engaged.
I give it 2.5 (almost 3) out of 4 thumbs up!
Until Next Time Kiddies,
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