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Smile is worth a trip to the theater for horror fans

A slew of new spooky releases is on the way for Halloween 2022. First up is Smile from Paramount. Adapting his short film Laura Hasn't Slept, Parker Finn makes his feature film directorial debut.

Doctor Rose Cotter (Sosie Bacon) specializes in calming down patients.

Taking one last phone call when Rose thinks her day is over, Laura Weaver (Caitlin Stasey) enters her life. Upon first observing Laura, Rose notices her eyes are dark as if she has not gotten any sleep in days.

Laura is tormented by something and looks like she hasn't slept a wink in days. Laura explains to Rose that she has seen things involving People in and out of her lie. As they approach her, they smile terrifyingly. As a result, Laura's life is in severe distress, and no one will believe that this is real.

As Rose attempts to work her magic with the latest patient, the situation quickly escalates from zero to a hundred. Laura starts screaming as if someone has entered the room. But when Rose calls for help, she sees a sinister grin on Laura's face, and with a sharp object, Laura kills herself in front of Rose.

Rose begins experiencing frightening occurrences that she can't explain after witnessing the bizarre, traumatic incident. Rose must confront her troubling past to survive and escape her horrifying new reality as the unimaginable terror begins to take over her life.

Originally, Smile was planned for streaming on Paramount+, but solid test screening results convinced the studio to release it theatrically instead. Despite a few minor gripes, I can say that the studio did the right thing.

Smile sets up its premise before the opening credits. We are thrust into Rose's plight as the film progresses. Despite not knowing much about Sosie Bacon's (daughter of Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick) previous work, she's on her A game as our heroine, bringing the right amount of paranoia.

Among the film's supporting cast are Jessie T Usher as Rose's fiancée, Gillian Zinser as her sister, and Kal Penn as her boss. Although Kyle Gallner is not given second billing, I would consider him our male lead as Joel, Rose's ex-flame, and a cop investigating the case. Each of the actors above fits into a horror movie character template. Jessie T Usher's character is the MVP for a straightforward reason. You'll see why when you watch it. I also have to shout out immensely talented Rob Morgan, who shows up for one scene and needs to do more horror movies.

Cristobal Tapia de Veer's haunting score effectively delivers jump scares in the film. In addition, I commend Parker Finn for his use of wide shots. However, given that Finn is a first-time director. He lets the film run too long. The film begins to slow down during the third act, and its running time shouldn't be close to two hours. Moreover, I thought the ending was cliché.

I recommend watching Smile in the theater despite my issues. The plot beats of Smile may be similar to those of It Follows, The Ring, Oculus, and Final Destination. However, it is an effective debut from a talented director, and I look forward to his next film.

Final Grade: B


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