“Smile” is a psychological horror film that is perfect for the Halloween holiday season as the trees shed their leaves and the temperature drops.
As spooky films creep into the theatres, there’s no doubt “Smile” takes the cake not only as one of the best horror films, but one of the most exceptional films of 2022.
The story revolves around Dr. Rose Cotter, a psychiatrist working with patients with serious mental illnesses. She is working with a patient who claims she sees a “thing” that looks like a human being smiling at her. It follows her, stalks her, and all it does is smile a haunting, ominous, sickening smile.
It isn’t long after this encounter that Dr. Cotter herself begins to see this strange thing in her own life. It watches her, haunts her dreams, possesses her patients, and seems to invade her mind.
She is determined to rid herself of this strange possession, but things get complicated when her own friends and family struggle to comprehend what she describes.
Many have compared “Smile” to the psychological thriller “It Follows”, a 2014 cult classic from which “Smile” surely found some inspiration.
The film has a musical taste focused on electric dissonance and horror, as well as a plot revolving around a creature that stalks and follows its victims and is invisible to all others. While there are many similarities between the two films, “Smile” still maintains a distinct plot and set of intriguing characters that seems to pay homage to “It Follows” without completely copying it.
Still, the plot of a film alone is not enough to create a powerful, engaging story that keeps audiences at the edge of their seats. “Smile” succeeds in captivating audiences through strong cinematography, frightening electric music and a realistic plot.
The story also doesn’t rely solely on jump scares to get its fear factor in, and most of the horror comes from the coalescence of strong sound design, creative visual decisions, and three-dimensional characters in a realistic
The music audiences are exposed to in “Smile” is simultaneously frightening and relaxing, hectic and calm, suspenseful and simple. It’s a music that speaks its own language, a music that you could study for hours diving for hidden meanings.
Every sound, every whistle, every sinister breath, every note, every horn… It’s all intentional and serves an uncomfortable purpose as it sinks you deeper into a deep, dark ocean of dissonance.
Furthermore, cinematography takes audiences for a ride as the film has a unique fixation on upside-down camera work that represents the warped, flipped world Dr. Cotter is living in as this thing with a smile on its face stalks her.
It also gives audiences a perspective of the world they’ve never seen before as the grass and the trees and roads, and houses become the ceiling of the sky. This is a creative way for the film to remind us that nothing is as it seems, and this is illustrated several times throughout the film when Dr. Cotter experiences hallucinations and nightmares that seem real.
Finally, the characters and the unfolding plot are realistic in every imaginable way.
This is not your cookie-cutter horror film with predictable endings, an overreliance on jump scares and overindulgence in cliches. The characters are believable, which makes you think this kind of plot could unfold in your own life, which only adds to its unsettling vibe.
There is never a dull moment throughout this film, and it is not for the faint of heart. But for those of you who appreciate the art of horror and psychological thrillers, and for those of you who are fans of the 2014 film “It Follows”, you are in for a treat this October.
Just one piece of advice: Don’t go alone.