Genre: Horror, Mystery, Thriller
Director: Parker Finn
Stars: Sosie Bacon, Jessie T Usher, Kyle Gallner
Year: 2022
Rating: R
Run-Time: 1 hour 55 minutes

After witnessing a bizarre, traumatic incident involving a patient, Dr. Rose Cotter starts experiencing frightening occurrences that she can’t explain. Rose must confront her troubling past in order to survive and escape her horrifying new reality.

I went to the movie Smile with my teenager at the theaters the first weekend it came out, and I went in blindly. I hadn’t seen a single preview. All I knew going in was that it was a horror movie with people who had creepy smiles. Sold. I was in.

The movie starts with Rose Cotter, a therapist who works at an emergency in-patient facility. A patient arrives at the facility and she stays to help despite already being there well past her shift and sleep seems to be something she’s postponed for some time. This is where the real inciting incident of the movie kicks off, and from that point on, we spiral down a whirlwind of suicide, ancient lore, and of course those creepy smiles.

As the movie progresses, the protagonist of the story slips into a psychotic break that keeps us guessing about what’s really happening. Her clothes, habits, and constant fidgeting make it clear that she’s not okay. And let’s not forget the ominous backstory of family mental health problems snuck in. The cinematography doubles down on the theme with artistic swirling angles and views, reminding you that perception is everything.

Despite all the reasons not to, I was #TeamRose, and I believed her. Rose teams up with an ex-boyfriend to track down a pattern of what happens to the long line of others who encountered the same triggering event. The lore they uncover had me on the edge of my seat, I had to see what happened! I needed to know more.

And then we get to the final leg of the movie, the big showdown, the face off with the monster, and this is where the movie lost me. To be honest, it’s probably my beef with a lot of monster movies. The monster was so underdeveloped and so clearly didn’t fit into the world introduced that I lost all concern or tension over what would happen next. Womp womp.

Despite a lack-luster reveal of the real monster, I’d give Smile a solid four out of five popcorn tubs. The entirety of the movie was filled with well-woven details to make us question what we thought we knew, the acting for every smile was fantastic, and of course those swoon-worthy camera angles.

When we left the theater, my teenage son said, “No, Mom. Just no. That was creepy.” Any movie that can give my teenager the heebie-jeebies is a win in my book.

Boo-graphy: Cass started her writing career as a journalist in college who moonlighted as an actress. Now at home with her husband, two sons, and two dogs, she’s discovered that fiction novel writing combines her love of the written word with her love of creating compelling characters. When she’s not staring at a computer screen, she can be found planting bulbs in the garden, her nose in a book, or watching Smallville with her family. Cass’s debut novel, Legacy Witches, was released in October of 2022.