2022 / Parker Finn / Paramount+ / R
This film feels like it should have been made in 2012
Wait, this is Sosie Bacon… Daughter to Kevin Bacon.
No genre is off-limits to Kal Penn.
Okay, the husband's acting is atrocious.
Can we lean more into the smile?
Great creature design.
Smile is based on a short film created by director Parker Finn called Laura Hasn’t Slept. In the short film, we experience a nightmare with Laura where a man manipulates and terrorizes her with a wicked grin. The woman who plays Laura is Caitlin Stacey, and man, she puts on a performance. From the messy hair to the stuttering monologue, Catlin is captivating. She can be seen grinning in the body bag of Smiles poster.
Parker Finn is coming into his own, and I believe he will find himself a faithful audience with Smile, but I am not sold as of yet, I can see the potential, but his screenplay and choice of actors fell flat for me. Sosie Bacon is Rose Cotter, our protagonist in Smile. Sosie’s acting bugs me, her style is meek and pretentious, as opposed to Caitlin Stacey who acts with boisterous intentions. The difference in characters is portrayed in the first couple of minutes of Smile, that is until Laura takes her own life. Parker Finn tries to portray the degradation of Rose Cotter through Sosie but it lacks conviction in the way that Laura does.
The smile itself doesn’t reflect the hysteria that we, the audience, are supposed to feel. One way that it loses its impact is how often it is used. The smile should have been used more sporadic throughout the film, and those smiles should have lingered with crooked yellowed teeth. I wanted to squirm in my seat at those grinning, but I never really did.
Some of the scares are fantastic. The bent neck, the face peeling, the cat… We never find out what really happened to the cat, which is disappointing and makes me think that perhaps this is all in the protagonist's head. I appreciate the way this film comes to a close, it’s quite pessimistic, which I tend to enjoy, but that does deflate the story a bit. This is an exploration of the character Rose Cotter, and her own trauma, which I think many can find relatable.