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  • Writer's pictureStephen Yanni

Smile (2023)

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Released 09-22-2022

Watched 05-20-2023

Reviewed 05-30-2023

Watched on Paramount +

"Why Is It That Everybody Else Who's Seen It Is Dead, And You're Alive?"

Smile (2023) is a horror film that manages to capture some truly unsettling moments while falling short in its overall narrative structure and reliance on overused genre conventions. Set in a psychiatric ward, the film's haunting atmosphere is perhaps its most effective feature, serving as the backdrop for a series of chilling encounters that will have viewers on the edge of their seats.

The standout performance comes from the lead actress Sosie Bacon playing Dr. Rose Cotter, a therapist grappling with hallucinations of smiling entities who foretell death in a disconcertingly jovial manner. Her performance is nuanced and believable, displaying the unraveling of her character with sensitivity and depth.

However, the plot falls into a predictable pattern, featuring a host of jump scares that feel more like cheap tricks than integral parts of the narrative. These elements do more to distract from the story than to enhance it, preventing the film from truly standing out in the genre.

Additionally, the backstory of Rose's character is drawn from familiar tropes, making her character arc feel somewhat clichéd. The film attempts to delve into Rose's past trauma and its impact on her current situation, but it does so in a way that feels simplistic and formulaic.

It's worth noting that the subject matter of this film – mental health issues, hallucinations, and suicide – is handled with a level of seriousness, albeit through the lens of a horror narrative. As such, viewers looking for a more in-depth exploration of these themes might find the treatment somewhat lacking.

In conclusion, Smile delivers some decent scares and atmospheric horror but falls short in creating a thoroughly engaging and original narrative. The performances are solid, and the premise is intriguing, but the reliance on jump scares and familiar horror tropes makes the film feel somewhat generic.

Note: The film deals with serious mental health issues and suicide. If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, it's important to reach out for help. In the United States, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) or use the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741. In case of immediate danger, call 988.

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