Smile (2022) – Parker Finn

Paramount Pictures’ latest theatrical release is an unnerving look parable for what happens with trauma when we just simply grin and bear it, instead of speaking of it openly, freely and dealing with it when it happens.

Doctor Rose Cotter (Sosie Bacon) works as a psychologist in the emergency department of a major hospital. She’s haunted by the death of her ill mother as a child and has some lingering issues with her sister, Holly (Gillian Zinser) because of it.

She has a terrifying encounter with a patient who is seeing things that aren’t there, and as she calls for help she is confronted with her patient, a terrifying smile on her face taking her own life.

Shortly after this, rose begins to be haunted by visions. People she does and doesn’t know will suddenly show up with this horrific grin on their faces, and make for truly frightening encounters. Made more so, because no one else can see them.

As she begins to investigate with an old ex, Joel (Kyle Gallner), after her relationship with her fiancee (Jessie T. Usher) implodes, the pair find a strange series of connections of people committing suicide in front of someone. The survivor is wracked with trauma and is then haunted by this smiling entity until they finally succumb to it, and pass it on by taking their lives in the most horrific way possible in front of the next witness.

Rose only has a few days to figure out what is going on and try to find a way to stop the curse/entity/smile from claiming her as the next victim, and it’s a tense, reality-shattering run to safety.

I like how a lot of the film was executed, and I love that it’s a thinly veiled parable about taking care of one’s mental health, getting away from the stigma of talking about our trauma and pain and confronting it. But if you don’t talk about it, it can totally rip you apart, all while you’re trying to put a happy face on things.

There are some frightening visuals, but nothing more so than having the camera settle on anyone that has that completely malevolent smile on their face.

The film works best when Rose is caught up in her visions, and the encounters she has with familiar people who, on a dime, change into something else. It puts you on edge and makes you question everything you’re seeing.

After the credits roll the thing that stays with you as you ponder your own traumas, is that haunting smile.

Talk about your mental health. It’s important.

Smile is currently playing in a theatre near you, brought to you by Paramount Pictures!

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