Um, on second thought, don’t.
After seeing the new horror flick “Smile” (R, 115 minutes, in theaters), you probably won’t want to encourage anyone to flash their chompers. The deranged, toothy grins on the faces of people real or imagined provide the scariest moments in this frightfest.
Dr. Rose Cotter (Sosie Bacon, daughter of Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick) witnesses a patient (Caitlin Stasey) smiling like a possessed character in a toothpaste ad and then slicing a new, bloody smile across her neck.
The gruesome, terrifying suicide is bad enough, but then Rose realizes that it’s the gift that keeps on giving. There’s a horrific pattern going on in which, like a chain letter (only, if you can imagine it, worse) in which one nightmarish suicide leads to another.
Those people unlucky enough to find themselves joining this conga line of death have trouble convincing anyone else that this curse – or whatever you want to call it – is real and that they aren’t out of their minds.
(Think about it. Somebody comes up to you and says, “Hey, I’m really stressin’ because I’m seeing all these visions of creepy people with insane smiles, and I think I’m going to die myself, by my own hand, any day now.” You’d probably be slow to accept this, too, right? I mean, unless you’ve already gone through something similar.)
Sure enough, Rose winds up with this mysterious affliction and struggles to figure it out. Meanwhile, she keeps having flashbacks of her mother killing herself back when Rose was a kid.
What’s going on? I can’t give that away, of course, but I will say I don’t think I ever got a satisfying answer. As “Smile” – written and directed by Parker Finn in his feature-film debut – trudges its way toward its vague ending, there are lots of jump-scares, more than one followed by the old standby of someone bolting upright in bed in reaction to a nightmare. Even the abrupt opening of a can of food for Rose’s pet, Mustache the Cat, is jarring. Scaaaaary. (I kept hoping Mustache would look up at Rose with one of those nutty smiles. No such luck.)
“Smile” deserves the all-too-common backhanded compliment that it’s “Not bad for what it is.” If you’re looking for spooky thrills or a few cheap jolts, you might enjoy this. If you’re looking for something more substantial, look elsewhere. **½ (out of four)
** Click here for Tim Miller’s previous movie columns for Cape Cod Wave **
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Tim Miller is a Cape-based member of the Boston Society of Film Critics. He also teaches film and journalism at Cape Cod Community College in West Barnstable. You can contact Tim at [email protected] or follow him onTwitter @TimMillerCritic. Or you can ignore him completely.
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