Smile  (18) |Close-Up Film Review

Dir: Parker Finn, US, 2022, 116mins

Cast:  Sosie Bacon, Jessie T. Usher, Kyle Gallner, Caitlin Stacey

Review by Carol Allen

If you like horror films, Smile is for you. It’s a really well made and effective example of the genre.

Sosie Bacon plays clinical psychiatrist Rose Cotter.   While treating a highly disturbed patient, who claims she is being terrorised by an entity, which takes on various human forms who always have a very sinister smile on their faces, Rose herself is traumatised, when the patient Laura (Caitlin Stacey) commits suicide in front of her – with that sinister smile on her face. 

Not only that but the patient appears to have transferred her problem to Rose, who starts to experience the same traumatic visitations as Laura did – all wearing that same scary smile.   So is all this real or is Rose having some sort of breakdown?

There are no familiar star faces in the film but some very good actors, including Stacey in her brief but disturbing role at the beginning.

Bacon, daughter of fellow actor Kevin, in her biggest role to date, is in virtually every scene and gives a very powerful performance, as Rose descends from a cool and in command professional woman into a terrorised and terrified one.  Others involved include Jessie T. Usher as her boyfriend, Kyle Gallner as the cop investigating Laura’s suicide, who’s also happens to be Rose’s former partner and Robin Weigert as the therapist who is trying to help Rose deal with her traumatic childhood and now even more traumatic present.

Writer/director Parker Finn takes the horror genre and gives it new life, using many of the usual tricks but in a refreshingly creative way.  Watch out for Rose’s cat for example!   One of his techniques is to revert to facing the actors with mainly practical and very effective horror effects on the set rather than relying on CGI and green screen and it pays dividends in terms of their powerful response – not to mention ours. The film also benefits from a first class and very scary soundtrack enhancing the action and some very slick and skilful editing.

Even if you’re not a fan of the horror movie, this one is well worth your attention.