Original title:Smile
Director:Parker Finn
Running time:115 minutes
Release date:30 september 2022
After witnessing a traumatic incident involving one of her patients, psychiatrist Rose Cotter's life turns into a nightmare. Overcome by a mysterious force, Rose must confront her past to try to survive...

Mulder's Review

Horrific cinema has often allowed new directors to become known to the general public by proposing stories capable of making us jump in our seats and giving life to shots that are as fascinating as they are disturbing.  By adapting his short film Laura Hasn't Slept into a feature film, the director and writer Parker Finn offers us a horrific thriller paying homage to the classics of the 70's and 80's (David Cronenberg and Sam Raimi come to mind) but also to Asian horror films like The Ring and The Grudge. The result is a film that not only manages to make us really scared but also to give life to shots that remain in memory long after seeing it.

Parker Finn has perfectly assimilated the essential rules of all horror films: strong scenes, masterful acting and a plot that plays with the audience's nerves. In the same way, it is also interesting to see how ordinary moments of life can be transformed into real waking nightmares. We discover the psychiatrist Parker Finn (Sosie Bacon) who finds in her work a way to forget a trauma linked to her childhood and having marked her and her young sister. In the clinic where she works, while the patients follow one another without interruption, she will come up against the disturbing behavior of one of her patients who will commit suicide in front of her as if she had been possessed by a demonic force. Disturbing events unfold before Rose Cotter's eyes, turning her life into a waking nightmare and making her wonder if she is simply losing her mind.

When discovering Smile and the fact that hallucinations are going to transform the ordered life of a psychiatrist, one will think in particular of horror films of the 70s and 80s, notably those of Sam Raimi (Evil Dead) but especially David Cronenberg in which the transformation of the body was at the center of the story. In the same way, by dealing with a curse and numerous victims who died in atrocious suffering, it is impossible not to think of the Japanese film sagas Ring and the Grudge. It comes out a frightening atmosphere and a succession of scenes as frightening as they are emotionally charged. In order to transmit this fear to the screen in a palpable way, the director benefits not only from the inspired interpretation of Sosie Bacon but also shows great care in the use of sound and the framing of certain scenes. Some of the shots shot in reverse seem to pay homage to the films of the 70's and 80's in which the great care given to the framing and the plot gave life to striking films.

Smile also relies particularly on the trauma of the past on the present time. While many films overdo the bloody or very violent scenes, director Parker Finn prefers to play on the visceral emotion that emerges from the film's strong moments. The last part of the film is certainly the most violent and shows us our incapacity to face certain forces that are beyond us. This film also stands out as the perfect example of this year's Halloween celebration of original and scary stories. This film shows us once again that horror cinema never ceases to reinvent itself but also knows how to capture our current society in which we are often pigeonholed like Parker Finn who could appear as a person weakened by his past and who is no longer able to distinguish between the real and the false following an extreme fatigue. Parker Finn not only succeeds in his first film but also imposes himself as a master of horror and we look forward to his next film.

Written and directed by Parker Finn
Based on Laura Hasn't Slept by Parker Finn
Produced by Marty Bowen, Wyck Godfrey, Isaac Klausner, Robert Salerno
Starring Sosie Bacon, Jessie T. Usher, Kyle Gallner, Caitlin Stasey, Kal Penn, Rob Morgan
Cinematography : Charlie Sarroff
Edited by Elliot Greenberg
Music by Cristobal Tapia de Veer
Production companies : Temple Hill Entertainment, Paramount Players
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release dates : September 22, 2022 (Fantastic Fest), September 28 2022 (France), September 30, 2022 (United States),
Running time : 115 minutes

Seen on September 23, 2022 at Gaumont Disney Village, Room 3 seat A21

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