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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

Texas A&M utility Gavin Grahovac (9) throws the ball during A&Ms game against Georgia on Friday, April 26, 2024, at Olsen Field. (CJ Smith/The Battalion)
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Farewell from the graduating Battalion staff of 2024
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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

Criticism: ‘Smile’: More harm than horror

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Photo by Photo via IMdB

Parker Finn debuts his first feature film.

 

Rating: 4/10

Editor’s note: The theme of this film revolves heavily around mental health and suicide, viewer discretion is advised.

Halloween is right around the corner and moviegoers have been indulging in the most recent releases of scary movies to get in the haunting spirit. This past month a debate has formed about whether “Smile” should be considered a must-watch scare or a hard skip bore this season. Released on Sept. 30, “Smile” is a psychological thriller about a young woman and her experience with trauma that started from a young age.

After experiencing the film at a late-night showing, it seems as if director, Parker Finn, had decided to take his own spin on already-made horror movies that base their entire plot on the psychological horror that comes with life trauma. Despite writing that looked to be heavily inspired by critically acclaimed “The Ring” (2002) and “It Follows” (2014), it was truthfully an uneventful watch. The only thing that left viewers thinking long after the movie was why Hollywood felt the need to produce another gimmicky movie that revolves around the topic of mental health in a harmful manner. 

Rose, played by Sosie Bacon, is a psychiatrist with a passion to help people after experiencing the traumatic death of her mother at a young age. Bacon follows in her father’s footsteps, Kevin Bacon, in becoming a serious actor with this story’s main character. She dives into the pain that comes with trauma which, in this film, comes in the form of a supernatural being with an unsettling smile. Viewers witness the spiraling of Rose when old wounds mix with new terrors as the plot thickens with the uncovering of each bloody death.

The goriness of this film is worth the mention because it is one of the only factors that would prompt the purchase of a movie ticket. Jump scares, brutal deaths with shears or a hammer and a computer-generated imaging dead cat are what come to mind when brainstorming if this film should be a topic of discussion amongst friends. The other factor would be that Jessie T. Usher, known as A-Train in Amazon’s Original “The Boys”, played an absent fiance who admitted to Google searching the effects of marrying a “nut case.” 

Nevertheless, the lack of seeing a trigger warning when promoting this film is upsetting and further ignites a feeling of distaste when using mental health as the central topic in horror movies, a trend that has been seen in scary movies since the 2000s. The only significant difference with this film’s story is the connection between each victim; the witnessing of a cruel and harsh suicide. It makes this film unnerving, and not in the spooky way like viewers hope.

The music and cinematography save what Finn was trying to create, a gloomy, heart-stopping thriller that makes the viewer see smiles in a different light. Overlooking the obviously computer-generated cat, that made the scene nearly comical, the film made up for it in the last running minutes when viewers see the truest form of the trauma-chasing monster that Rose can never escape. It felt as if Creepypasta had made its return to the big screen in the form of an A24 film.

To add to the debate, “Smile” is a theater skip that would only leave viewers underwhelmed and feeling regretful for not buying a ticket to “Halloween Ends” instead to get in the spooky spirit. With undisclosed mental health topics and a harmful view of suicide, Finn’s first feature is another rendition of mental health being exploited for the cost of a classic jump scare.

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