Smile (2022) Film Review: A Heartwarming Cinematic Gem

Movie Bunker Score:

Smile: A Missed Opportunity in the Horror Genre

When it comes to horror movies, the effective use of jumpscares can make all the difference in creating a genuinely terrifying experience. Films like Andy Muschietti’s “It” have proven that jumpscares, when used strategically and unpredictably, can leave audiences on the edge of their seats. However, not every movie manages to achieve this level of suspense and fear. Unfortunately, Parker Finn’s “Smile” falls flat in its attempt to deliver trauma-inducing creepiness, instead relying on a series of ridiculous performances and loud jump scares.

The Disappointment of Predictable Jumpscares

“Smile” is based on Finn’s award-winning short film, “Laura Hasn’t Slept,” which I unfortunately couldn’t find to watch beforehand. The premise of the movie sets up something intriguing and potentially special—a creature that takes on the appearance of others, wearing a sinister smile and tormenting its victims. Sosie Bacon portrays Dr. Rose Cotter, who works at a psychiatric ward and encounters Laura Weaver (Caitlin Stasey), the only person who sees the creature.

Tragically, Weaver takes her own life in front of Rose, passing on the curse of the smiling creature. As Rose begins to see the creature herself, her perception of reality becomes distorted. While the premise holds promise, the execution is lacking. The film descends into a predictable series of events, with Rose desperately trying to convince others that she is not crazy but cursed. Only her ex-boyfriend Joel (Kyle Gallner), a police officer investigating the suicides, believes her.

As the audience learns more about the creature and its feeding on pure trauma, the potential for an original horror villain emerges. Yet, the filmmakers squander this opportunity by turning “Smile” into a jumpscare machine. Unfortunately, each jumpscare is telegraphed from a mile away, robbing the movie of any real suspense and making it tiresome to watch. These jumpscares only serve as cheap “Gotcha!” moments, lacking any storytelling purpose beyond startling the viewer.

A Wasted Premise and Unconvincing Performances

With a premise as intriguing as a creature feeding on trauma, “Smile” had the potential to explore the depths of human fear and examine the lasting effects of trauma. However, the film fails to deliver on these possibilities. The performers, including Sosie Bacon, struggle to deliver genuinely terrifying performances. Bacon’s portrayal of Dr. Rose Cotter’s descent into madness often borders on unintentional humor.

One particular sequence, intended to be dramatic and highlight Rose’s lack of control, elicited laughter from the audience I watched it with. The actors seem to belong in a comedy rather than a horror movie exploring the profound impact of trauma on individuals. Even Kal Penn, in a minor supporting role, falls prey to clichéd lines as the “rational” psychiatrist character.

The Untapped Potential of a Scary Concept

It is a shame that “Smile” ultimately falls short of its promises. The intriguing premise of a creature preying on trauma had the potential to offer something truly original and thought-provoking. Unfortunately, the film fails to deliver on its thematic potential and offers no meaningful insights into the lasting scars left by trauma.

While the climax of the film does showcase a genuinely frightening depiction of the creature, it is a mere glimpse of what could have been. The filmmakers neglect to explore the psychological depths of the characters or provide a captivating narrative that keeps the audience engaged. Instead, they rely on tired jump scare tropes that provide little more than loud, predictable moments of cheap horror.


In conclusion, “Smile” fails to live up to its potential as an effective horror movie. With a captivating premise and the opportunity to explore the haunting effects of trauma, the film instead falls into formulaic jumpscares and unintentionally comedic performances. While the concept of a creature that feeds on trauma holds promise, it is ultimately wasted within the confines of this film. For a truly original and terrifying cinematic experience, it is recommended to seek out other horror movies that offer more depth and suspense.

Frequently Asked Questions About Smile

1. Is “Smile” based on a true story?

No, “Smile” is a work of fiction and not based on a true story. It is purely a product of the filmmaker’s imagination.

2. Can I watch “Smile” online?

As of now, “Smile” is only available in theaters. However, streaming options may become available in the future.

3. How long is the runtime of “Smile”?

“Smile” has a runtime of approximately 115 minutes.

4. Are there any other recommended horror movies similar to “Smile”?

If you’re looking for original and scary horror movies, it is recommended to explore films like “Barbarian,” which offers a unique and genuinely terrifying cinematic experience.

5. What rating does “Smile” have?

The rating for “Smile” may vary depending on your country and the applicable rating system. It is advisable to check the rating provided by the film’s distributor or relevant authorities in your region.