‘Smile’ Review: The Demons Grin Back at You in a Horror Movie With a Highly Effective Creep Factor
Owen Gleiberman Chief Film Critic “Smile” is a horror film that sets up nearly everything — its highly effective creep factor, its well-executed if familiar shock tactics, its interlaced theme of trauma and suicide — before the opening credits. In an emergency psych ward, Dr. Rose Cotter (Sosie Bacon), a diligent and devoted therapist, is speaking to a woman who sounds like her soul went to hell and never made it back. Her name is Laura (Caitlin Stasey), and she describes, in tones that remain rational despite her tremulous panic, the visions she’s been seeing that no one else can. She sees faces — or, rather, a spirit, a something, that reveals itself in people’s faces. She can feel it lurking; the spirit’s signature is a face that will stare back at her with an evil smile, a scary grin of the damned. Describing all this, Laura becomes so distraught that she starts to convulse. Then the doctor turns around, seeing a smashed flowerpot on the floor, and Laura has disappeared. But no! She’s there, with a pottery shard in hand. And now she’s the one smiling, as she digs the shard into her neck and scrapes it along, slitting her throat in blood-gushing slow motion. Put on a happy face!