“Smile”: A Spine-Chilling Success

“Smile”: A Spine-Chilling Success

With the horror movie season in full swing, the highly anticipated film “Smile” has finally hit theaters. Known for its unorthodox lack of a distinct antagonist, the film has been advertised and promoted all across the country at an unprecedented rate, making it a global phenomenon. 

The movie starts out with actress Sosie Bacon’s character, Rose Cotter, a therapist who works at a psychiatric ward, talking to a recently admitted patient. She describes people smiling menacingly at her, setting up an eerie tone that flows throughout the movie. Targeted by the exact same horrors that scarred her patient, Cotter takes the audience with her on her journey to find the root of the horrors plaguing her psyche. 

Smile is an extremely entertaining horror flick that unapologetically makes no bones about its derivative nature and delivers exactly what it promises on the tin; thanks to Parker Finn’s directorial eye and a stellar lead performance from Sosie Bacon,” an anonymous reviewer said on Rotten Tomatoes

Initial reactions to “Smile” were filled with surprise, shock, and extreme unease. The movie was not focused on jumpscares that made you scream or leap out of your seat, but instead on the unnerving aspect of its traumatic content matter; specifically through smiles, a traditionally positive image that is heavily contrasted in the film. These would seemingly come out of nowhere, forcing the audience to look away in discomfort.

“Smiles are meant to be really warm gestures, of friendliness and kindness, and invitation,” Director Parker Finn said to a reporter at Hot Press. “And it’s very primal to us as human beings – we learn to smile as babies before we even learn to speak. So I wanted to flip that on its head and use a smile to represent true evil, and allow people to wear a smile as a mask, as a promise of a threat.”

“… I wanted to … use a smile to represent true evil.”

— Parker Finn

A huge part of the movie’s initial success was the unconventional nature of their marketing campaign. To advertise, various actors would creepily smile into the camera at various public events, frightening viewers. This caused the popularity and suspense to grow even more, earning “Smile” $22 million from ticket sales alone. 

“I honestly never even heard of the movie until mid September,” senior Kenny Yoon said. “I was just watching baseball and saw someone smiling in the camera with a ‘Smile’ shirt on and found out there was a movie on it. And eventually I went to the theater and it turned out to be very good.”