Story: Dr. Rose Carter (Sosie Bacon) works on a psychiatric emergency ward, so she is no stranger to the tolls of trauma and mental illness, though she never gets used to the things she experiences. The most recent incident has stuck with her more than usual however, when patient Laura (Caitlyn Stasey) arrives on the floor and soon after, takes her own life. Laura confided in Rose that she felt like something was hunting her down, a malevolent presence of some kind that could take the form of humans, but certainly wasn’t human itself. She had also witnessed one of her professors kill himself in violent fashion with a hammer, the point where the ominous presence was first felt. Before Rose can even process what she’s been told, Laura slits her own throat right in front of her, sending Rose into a breakdown of sorts. When she begins to have similar feelings to Laura’s, that something is out there and after her, she is put on a leave of absence from work. But with both Laura and her professor dead, will this gruesome pattern continue with Rose as the next victim?

Entertainment Value: Smile was able to drum up some publicity with a fun campaign that put creepy smiling people all over various televised events, but sadly, the movie itself is less entertaining than its advertising efforts. I wouldn’t call Smile a terrible movie, as it tells a coherent narrative for the most part and touches on some interesting topics, but it is dull and predictable for bulk of the duration. The final few sequences are a welcome change of pace that got my attention and I wish the entire movie was like that, though that isn’t the case. The concept of trauma as a driving narrative element in horror is not new, but it is an interesting arena to explore, which Smile doesn’t take the time to do. This is a quick, shallow take on the premise and while that results in a watchable movie, the film does little to stand out or be memorable. The script makes a little effort at times, before it falls back into a routine of mediocre horror elements that never hit, at least until the finale. As cool as the finale is at times however, it feels so different from the rest of Smile, not a natural transition at all. So while I was disappointed here, Smile ends up as a pretty typical mainstream horror movie from its era, I just wish it had shown more creative energy or gone all out with the weirdness seen toward the final scenes. I can’t give it much enthusiasm, but Smile is not among the worst horror movies out there, it just fails to spark much beyond the basics.

The cast here is quite good and performs well basically across the board, but the material does little to put their talents to use, so none of the performances really stand out. If the script had been able to give these actors a little more to work with, I think Smile could have been so much better, as this is a talented ensemble for the most part. Sosie Bacon has the lead and is capable, turning in a solid all around effort, but again, she’s held back here. Bacon doesn’t shine like a megastar, but you can see she has a lot of potential and this could have been a terrific role if she had been given more. Her screen presence is fine and she plays well off her costars, while handling the dramatic elements well enough. I think its a shame the writers let her down here, as she is solid in Smile and winds up getting outshined by goofy smiles. And that is likely the most and perhaps only memorable element here, but we’ve seen the distorted smiles in other films, with much better results. The cast also includes Jessie T. Usher, Caitlin Stasey, Kal Penn, Robin Weigert, and Kyle Gallner.

Use this Amazon link to check out Smile and help support my site!