Next year marks the incredible 50-year anniversary of the release of the movie “The Exorcist”. The Exorcist is arguably the most shocking and frightening movie ever made, and has never been surpassed.
Since the release of The Exorcist there have been countless lists of copy-cat-exorcist-like movies that have come out trying and failing to achieve the extreme levels of fright that the original achieved so long ago. Many of these movies use shocking horror movie trickery that includes a sudden horrific event. Dream sequences that make you believe that something is happening that is not really happening, easily the most annoying of all the horror movie tricks. This kind of movie magic was never necessary for the Exorcist because the quality of the horror was always there, requiring nothing additional to scare the audience.
The latest attempt at a shocking horror film is “Smile”, which is a film where a psychiatrist, Rose Cotter, played by Sosie Bacon (the daughter of Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick) is horrified when one of her patients commits suicide right in front of her, in a very disturbing way. The story after this horrible event is that there is some evil creature possessing other people to kill themselves while someone else witnesses the suicide – then causing a connecting chain of suicides that goes on for an unknown number of victims. The common thread throughout all of these suicides is that when the person is possessed, they get a huge evil smile on their face – the reason for the title of the film. Of course, this entire premise is rather ridiculous, but most horror movies are ridiculous for any number of reasons, this one being no different.
Overall, I thought this story was well told, despite the “too many shocking dream sequences or shocking sudden horror moments”. The smile idea did work and did add a certain amount of subtle horror that was mostly effective. The acting, even considering this is a horror movie, was well done. Despite the high 83% ratings for Smile on Rotten Tomatoes, my rating is 75% and a mild recommendation, mainly for the original smile idea and the good acting.