“Smile”: A surprisingly scary must-watch


Gigi Richardson Seifert

Follow along as writer Camilla Lewis dives into the latest psychological horror movie “Smile” as it’s sure to be a favorite for horror film enthusiasts.

Camilla Lewis, Writer

Filled with a load of jumpscares, twists, gore, violence and an unsettling soundtrack, the movie “Smile” directed by Parker Finn and released by Paramount Pictures on Sept. 30, 2022, is just the right movie to see if you enjoy watching psychological horror films. “Smile” follows the main character Rose Carter’s (Sosie Bacon) life after she’s been passed on a torturous entity that disguises itself as others around her with a sinister smile. As the audience goes on a journey with Rose to figure out if she can stop it before it destroys her, similarities to other films such as “The Ring” and “It Follows” reveal themselves along the way, all while being surprisingly scarier than its trailers make it out to be.

The underlying heart of this film circles around the trauma that Rose carries with her caused by her past. As the production progresses, the audience gets to see how Rose copes with her trauma and how she is forced to confront it. The movie starts off by immediately immersing the audience into an unsettling memory from Rose’s childhood with eerie music. This scene not only shows the viewer the amount of trauma that will be affecting Rose’s character throughout the rest of the film, but will also most likely leave a chokehold on one’s mind even days after watching the movie.

Once this sickening scene abruptly passes, it becomes clear that this memory was resurfacing in Rose’s dream as she wakes up at her desk in a mental hospital where she works as a psychiatrist. As Rose tries to gather her thoughts and go along her normal routine at work, her character is shown as strung out, both emotionally and physically. 

It’s not long after when an incident goes down in her workplace, passing on to her an entity that jumps from person to person and kills them in no longer than seven days. These harrowing events result in a chain of victims. Some of these details can even relate to other films such as “The Ring” and “It Follows.” “Smile” relates to “The Ring” in the sense that the sinister force has its victims killed within the same time frame of a week. It relates to “It Follows” because the entity in both can shape-shift into different people, and all of the victims are part of a growing chain.

While key factors of the entity reveal themselves, the film’s director Finn makes it obvious to the viewers that it feeds off of its victims’ trauma. The entity spreads to different people by making them witness something traumatic, and then keeps on torturing them with awful psychological experiences until it consumes them. 

In the trailer for “Smile,” the scenes chosen to represent it do not properly prepare the audience for how scary the movie actually is, which can leave one stunned once they’ve watched it. Part of this is because actor Sosie Bacon was present throughout the trailer, but we never actually get any clips of her acting during the heaviest scenes of the movie, which is where the most of her fear is conveyed to the audience perfectly. The trailer also lacked the movie’s biggest jumpscares and twists, which the movie is pretty saturated with and are part of what makes it so scary. While this does prevent spoilers, it also leaves the viewer unprepared for what they’re really in for and actually makes the whole film even more terrifying. The viewer will finish the movie with more things to think about as their expectations are blown out of proportion.  

Bacon’s acting as Rose is what truly carries the movie from start to finish, as she is in almost every single scene and is successfully able to make her feelings transfer through the screen to the audience. These emotions are especially palpable through the moment where she finds her cat dead—you can really relate to the amount of shock, sorrow and grief that she was conveying. Her acting throughout the duration of the movie was also very convincing, as her character is desperate and haggard from the start of the production to the very end.

Without Bacon’s acting skills, “Smile” could have been more of a letdown rather than the true horror it turned out to be. Part of this is also because the movie heavily relies on jumpscares, and Bacon’s convincing reactions to these to keep the viewer awake—without these two things, the movie is sort of slow. So with this in mind, I would ultimately rate “Smile” an 8/10. Even though the plot of the movie could have gone faster to make it more interesting, Bacon’s acting mixed in with a few good jumpscares is what really tips the hat to making it a surprisingly scary must-watch. 

What do you think?