I wish I had gotten to see Smile while it was still in theaters. I can only imagine how the already outstanding sound design and music would be in a theater’s sound system rather than just what I have in my office’s television. I had seen the trailer for the movie once in the middle of the summer, a few months before its release, and was completely sold on it. It was actually a few days before the Chattanooga Film Festival started, which had a short of the same name but is not related much to my surprise. Which is interesting since Smile is based on a short.
Both Smile and the short Laura Hasn’t Slept were written and directed by Parker Finn, with Smile being his directorial debut. He was able to work together with the cinematographer Charlie Sarroff to have several distinct shots. The shots work well to not only establish where everything is happening but also to get the audience off kilter and keep them on their backfoot. The story is interesting and compelling. I found myself being drawn into the world early and wanting to stay there until the end of the movie.
I wanted to stay in the world and with the characters because of performances. Sosie Bacon’s performance is compelling and heartbreaking that grounds the character’s tragic backstory. She really anchors the entire movie with her performance and how everyone else in the cast plays off of it. Jessie T. Usher, Kyle Gallner, Robin Weigert, Caitlin Stasey, Kal Penn, and Rob Morgan make up the amazing supporting cast. After watching Smile, I want to see Kyle Gallner be the lead in a neo noire because he shows that he can carry a story like that in the movie. Also, the shift in performances whenever the entity is in control of the different characters show how terrifying each of the actors can be.
The effects in the movie are fantastic. There was only one moment where the effects were less than optimal, but it really didn’t take me out of the moment. All of the effects work together for the unsettling tone of the entire movie. The set and costume design for the movie helps make the movie as good as it is. The music and sound design for Smile is amazing. Cristobal Tapia de Veer’s score is as intensely unsettling as you want it to be for a movie as unsettling as this is.
Smile is a hell of a movie, and I can see why it made waves this year even with as strong of a year horror has had. Parker Finn had a hell of a directorial debut and made a name for himself with this movie. The fact that it was put on Paramount + after its first 45 days in theaters helped those of us that couldn’t make it to theaters see it. If you haven’t seen it yet I recommend remedying that as soon as you can. I give Smile 8 smiley-face mugs out of 10.