Random Thoughts – Randocity!

Movie Review: Smile Movie

Posted in movies, reviews by commorancy on March 25, 2023

smilePaying to see a film in the theater, particularly a film that I already know is bad, is out of the question. And so it goes with the movie Smile. Let’s explore this film’s problems.

Spoiler Warning: Don’t continue reading if you want to watch this film.


Another movie reviewer suggests that this film takes some of its cues from The Ring (2002). I didn’t get much of a “The Ring” vibe while watching Smile. However, I did get a heavy Final Destination (2000) vibe. While the movie doesn’t feel like a Final Destination film in its story, the predestined outcome, once revealed by Rose, feels very much like Final Destination.

What that means is that Smile is very much derivative of other films which have come before, like Final Destination. Thus, the film feels already way too familiar while watching it.


While I’m sure that the director and producer(s) had wanted to produce something that felt like a psychological thriller, in the vein of Alfred Hitchcock, unfortunately Smile never achieves that level of professional treatment. That’s mostly because the story fails the film. Instead of watching a solid thriller unfold, what we get is something that feels at once all too familiar, but with an overly problematic story. Unfortunately, as I said, that leaves the film never reaching the level of foreboding suspense of an Alfred Hitchcock production.

Story Problems

This story feels a lot like a very long episode of the Twilight Zone. Unfortunately, the writers more or less fail this film almost completely. The first act of this film begins by unfolding Smile’s narrative of a crazed young woman named Laura Weaver who complains of being stalked by an unseen entity. Rose (an overworked therapist at a hospital) initially diagnoses Laura’s condition as a psychotic break. It isn’t until she witnesses the brutal suicide death of Laura where Smile truly begins. Laura’s suicide is odd because she does it all with a smile on her face; a smile that remains even after she’s dead by her own hand.

This is where Rose’s life takes a huge turn and where the Smile movie’s first act can begin in earnest. During the first act, Rose doesn’t fully understand that something’s amiss for quite a long time. Too long, actually. She goes about her daily life believing that her being overworked is the source of her anxieties and “seeing things”. It isn’t until her cat ultimately disappears and then turns up in a rather awkward place that she really begins to understand something more than merely being overworked is at play.

This is when Rose herself begins to see her former psychiatrist. More than this, Rose begins to understand that what Laura had said in her first encounter is actually unfolding in the same way for her.

Let’s stop right here…

Story and Plot So Far

To this point in the film, Smile is relatively slow burn, but the plot is unfolding in a way that’s not overly far fetched or out of line for its premise. However, most viewers by this point probably have a strong inkling of where this film is heading and where it is likely to head. That’s always a problem. The director and writer didn’t actually do anything counter this audience second-guessing problem, instead they double down on it… which ultimately doesn’t work.

What do the writers do? They begin Act II by waking Rose up and having her take her experience and knowledge and trying to determine if there’s truly something amiss… and more importantly, exactly how to resolve it. Of course, none of the characters around her believe any of her ramblings, partly because the entity is making her see people who aren’t actually there.

Act II

As we enter Act II of this film, Rose has decided that there’s a real problem that she needs to investigate. Rose dons her investigator cap and begins web surfing along with using an on-again-off-again boyfriend cop to get information related to her investigation of “the cycle.”

Suffice it to say that this investigatory process lasts way too long considering how it’s ultimately used in the film. Once again, let me stop right here.

Investigation and Horror

The only reason to launch a long drawn out investigation within a horror film is to try and break “the cycle.” Rose eventually determines that there is a cycle afoot; a cycle that could lead to her death if she can’t get out in front of it. This investigation leads her to one person who seemingly was able to break the cycle and lived to tell the tale.

Unfortunately, who and where this person is ultimately tells us exactly how the cycle was broken. Yet, the writers insist on taking us to where he is to actually talk to this person IN person to confirm it. Once we get there and Rose confirms the reason why this person was able to cheat the cycle, she instantly blurts out that she is unable to perform the act that got him out of the cycle. She blurts it out so fast, in fact, that it was somewhat difficult to understand what she said.

At first, I thought this admission was just the Rose character jumping to far-too-quick of a conclusion without truly thinking it through. If Rose’s life is on the line, her need for self-preservation should have eventually kicked in. After all, Smile is a suspense and horror film. For Rose to completely blow off the idea so readily and instantly tells me that the writers were hopelessly lost at this point. It’s a horror film, guys! Get with the program!

Second half of Act II

The second half of Act II was the time for a twist from the writers. Unfortunately, that twist just never materializes. Everything set up in the first act leads us in a very straightforward manner directly into the second act. Everything predicted by the cycle exactly comes to pass with no deviation… even though, Rose has had well enough time to investigate the cycle and even break it if she had so chosen.

Instead, the second half of the second act is merely devoted to just how the Smile entity can take over the mind of its victim making that person believe whatever it wants. In that goal, Rose decides to head out to an isolated house in the middle of the woods with no one there who can try to bring Rose back to reality… not that that would have been possible. Her rationale, though, was that with no one else there, the entity is trapped. Rose way underestimated the entity’s prowess.


One topic that was never really outright said in the film, demonic possession, was clearly the hallmark of this situation. This entity turns out to be some kind of demon who delights in seeing its victims commit suicide in front of others in a very brutal way. If the writers had embraced the idea of demonic possession, either Laura or Rose could have attempted to stop the demon from possessing them. Unfortunately, by the time the possession takes full effect (a slow buildup taking several days), once possessed, that leaves minutes before the person commits suicide in front of another, beginning the cycle anew. I have to assume the writers were thinking that the entity’s possession takes days because it takes that long to wear down the psyche of the person being tormented.


The film is derivative and unimpressive. The demonic smile isn’t demonic. It’s just a smile. The smile needed some major CG enhancement to make the smile wider, wierder and more sinister than it appears on the faces of each of the victims… perhaps, even tearing the face apart to achieve it.

Worse, the whole overly long investigatory aspect for Rose left the viewers wondering what the hell happened. Since Rose spent a large swath of screen time trying to make sense of the situation and, more importantly, trying to find a way out of it, you would think that Rose could have seriously contemplated what was needed to get herself out of it and survive. She didn’t. More than this, because it’s a horror film likely wanting to begin a franchise, killing off your lead character doesn’t allow for that.

If the writers are thinking that they can make Smile 2 using the ex-boyfriend cop as the lead, they need to think again. Of course, they can simply use him as the setup, like Laura, to initiate another lead character to try their hand again at trying to unravel the mystery of this demon. The question is, can a second Smile film actually pull that off? I’m not so sure.

For this film, the story doesn’t really work. If Rose had actually contemplated and achieved breaking the cycle, that would have been the twist that Smile required to make it satisfying. Yes, the cycle would have been broken for Rose, but someone else would have still inherited the demon to deal with later. Unfortunately, this all too predictable story was all too predictable in its ending.

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
Recommendation: Watch only on “free” streaming services


Comments are encouraged under these rules: 1. No personal attacks allowed. 2. Comments with personal attacks will not be posted. 3. Please keep your words civil. Thank you for contributing!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: