By Adam Freed
Parker Finn’s psychological horror film Smile is absolutely terrifying. The first act ensnares audiences by presenting images in a way that is just a little closer than is comfortable. By the time the first “event” presents itself, the film is off to the races.
The second act of this sure to be cult classic pays homage to Kubrick’s work in The Shining in that it employs a pulsing, and at times disconcerting score, in addition to a number of bird’s eye exterior shots to bathe the film in uneasiness. We are not ok watching this movie, Finn reminds us of this more often than is needed.
Smile only proves itself vulnerable in a third act that loses a little steam, only to ramp back up for a satiating yet disconcerting conclusion. This film could have only been better had there been less of it. Shaving 15 minutes off of its 1 hour 55 min run time could’ve kept the plot above 70mph while cutting back on the repetitive presentation of the film's singular, yet meaningful, theme. At 100 minutes this film could be a classic. As is, it is a horrific and satisfying addition to the genre. Whether in genre ecstasy or mortal pain, Smile is sure to spread its toothy grin on audiences for weeks to come.