Smile (2023) Horror Movie Review


“Smile,” the 2023 horror film directed by Parker Finn, has left an indelible mark on the genre, weaving a tale that is as much about the horrors of the mind as it is about the supernatural. The film follows Dr. Rose Cotter, portrayed with a gripping intensity by Sosie Bacon, as she grapples with the aftermath of a traumatic incident that sets off a series of chilling events, blurring the lines between reality and nightmare.

The narrative thrust of “Smile” is driven by a malevolent entity that preys on individuals who have witnessed traumatic events, particularly suicides. This entity manifests itself in the most disturbing of ways, often leaving its victims with a grotesque grin before their untimely demise. The film’s exploration of trauma, both personal and vicarious, is handled with a deft touch, making it a standout feature that resonates with the audience long after the credits roll.

One of the film’s strengths lies in its relentless atmosphere of dread. It doesn’t shy away from presenting harrowing scenes that are both visually and emotionally jarring. The horror elements are executed with precision, ensuring that they serve the story rather than merely providing shock value. The film’s grim tone is consistent throughout, creating a sense of unease that is hard to shake off.

The performances in “Smile” are commendable, with Bacon leading the charge. Her portrayal of Dr. Cotter is nuanced, capturing the character’s descent into paranoia and fear with authenticity. The supporting cast, including Jessie T. Usher, Robin Weigert, and Kyle Gallner, provide solid performances that anchor the film’s more fantastical elements in a semblance of reality.

The cinematography and sound design are other aspects where “Smile” excels. The visual language of the film is carefully crafted to enhance the storytelling, using lighting and camera angles to create an atmosphere that is both claustrophobic and expansive when needed. The sound design adds another layer to the film’s effectiveness, with a haunting score that underscores the tension and terror.

While “Smile” does tread familiar ground within the horror genre, it manages to carve out its own identity through its thematic depth and commitment to character development. The film’s pacing is deliberate, allowing the audience to fully immerse themselves in Dr. Cotter’s ordeal and the mystery she unravels.

In the Nutshell

“Smile” is a film that not only delivers on the scares but also offers a poignant commentary on the impact of trauma. It is a well-crafted piece of cinema that will likely be remembered for its ability to disturb and provoke thought in equal measure. For those seeking a horror movie that goes beyond the surface-level frights, “Smile” is a film worth watching. I give 4 out of 5.

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Genre: Supernatural

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