Smile is a 2022 American psychological horror film written and directed by Parker Finn in his feature directorial debut, based on his 2020 short film Laura Hasn’t Slept. It stars Sosie Bacon as a therapist named Rose Cotter, who, after witnessing the bizarre suicide of a patient, goes through increasingly disturbing and daunting experiences, leading her to believe what she is experiencing is supernatural. It also stars Jessie T. Usher, Kyle Gallner, Robin Weigert, Kal Penn, and Rob Morgan, as well as Caitlin Stasey playing the same character she played in the short film. (Wikipedia)
S P O I L E R S
The basic premise of Smile involves the curse of trauma and how it is passed on from one person to another. In the film, the antagonistic entity is identified by a disturbing smile, like the Batman villain, the Joker. The entity haunts its victims with terrifying hallucinations before forcing him or her to brutally commit suicide in full view of a third party, who then is ‘infected’ by the entity and so on.
Once Cotter investigates the chain of suicides before her patient, she discovers that the entity requires the trauma to be witnessed in order for it to possess another victim. In the course of her investigation, she finds out about a victim that survived by killing somebody else in full view of a witness, thereby passing on the entity to that other person but of course being incarcerated by having done so.
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Smile is unique in that the story tries to work out Cotter’s resolution of her dilemma. Does she murder her patient in full view of her boss? She suffers a horrific nightmare of this very scenario. Or maybe Cotter can be rid of the entity by coming to terms with her own personal trauma. Cotter was traumatised by the death of her mentally ill mother at age ten, living with the guilt of that death.
It appears that Cotter does exactly that too, destroying the entity in a fire at her parents’ old house. But of course, it is yet another hallucination again. The real denouement is as expected – Cotter sets herself on fire in front of her former lover, Joel, thereby passing on the curse to him. A very depressing resolution for sure – certainly no happy ending for Smile. But isn’t that just like real life? Recommended viewing.
Watch Smile on Amazon Prime.
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