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Good storytelling in 'Smile' is bogged down by disappointing conclusion

New horror flick "Smile" has plenty of scares and excellent marketing, but its conclusion falls flat. – Photo by Smile Movie / Twitter

Everyone has seen the creepy promotion stunts for the newly released movie “Smile.” The movie’s marketing team placed actors at MLB games and in the crowd of morning breakfast shows. At these events, actors were dressed in neon t-shirts and smiling in the most terrifying way.

This created a storm on the internet with many people being creeped out that these people were acting demonic in real-life situations. Despite the movie being unknown prior to this media frenzy, before its release, "Smile" was one of the most anticipated movies this fall.

The movie focuses heavily on shared trauma and almost emulates a tall tale that you would hear at school, like Bloody Mary or Slender Man.

The movie opens by introducing the protagonist, Rose Cotter, to the story as a child and shows her first experience of trauma. It then goes to the present day, where Rose is a doctor at an emergency psychiatric hospital.

Rose lives and breathes her work, and she can’t seem to break away from her passion for helping others. But one day, after a long day of work, she is assigned to speak to a doctorate student who is having a mental breakdown.

Once Rose starts speaking to the woman, the student explains that she witnessed her professor bludgeon himself to death, and since then, she has been tormented by people smiling at her creepily. Whether it be dead people from her past or people in the street, no one else can see these demons except for her.

The student starts freaking out, claiming that the smiling people said that she was going to die that day. All of a sudden she starts screaming and begging for her life. The room then goes silent, and the student smiles, just the way she described. Before Rose knows it, the student kills herself right in front of her.

Rose is shocked by what she has seen and is obviously shaken by the events taking place. But soon enough, she starts experiencing the same events that the student did. Rose first sees one of the patients evilly smiling and instantly calls security on him because she was so scared.

Later on, Rose visits her sister’s house for her nephew's birthday party and excitedly gives him his birthday present. Once unwrapping the gift, the little boy is shocked to find Rose’s dead cat in the gift box.

Everyone at the party is disgusted with Rose’s actions, believing that she gifted the cat on purpose. Rose is bewildered and begins to panic as she had no idea how the cat got into the box and died. Just as she’s defending herself, she sees one of the moms in a rocking chair smiling in just the same way as her patient before.

Rose is terrified and starts screaming and questioning why no one else sees the mother smiling. Subsequently, she trips and falls into her sister’s glass coffee table, injuring herself with the broken glass. 

After this, there is a chain of events of Rose experiencing these demon-like people and beginning an investigation to find out why she was seeing what she was seeing.

Being an outcast from everyone else, she confides in her ex-boyfriend (who is also a detective), and together, they find a string of cases that connect the curse to herself. In this deep dive, Rose discovers that this curse goes back further than the professor — in fact, the professor witnessed a similar murder, and the curse back nearly 20 people.

But there is an outlier out of the 20 people, one man that survived. Doing further research, Rose discovers that the man was currently in jail for killing someone. Wanting to learn more, her ex-boyfriend manages to get an interview with the man, where he explains that in order to get rid of the curse, he had to kill someone, with a witness, and the curse passed on to the witness.

The curse feeds on trauma, so by killing someone, the man was ultimately sacrificing another to save himself. Rose goes into a manic episode and runs away to her old house where she grew up, the location where her mother killed herself. 

Despite viewers’ hope for a happy ending, Rose’s childhood home catches on fire, and her ex-boyfriend runs in to save her. Doing so, he discovers that the demonic curse has taken her over, and she kills herself, passing on the curse to her ex-boyfriend.

This movie had a significant number of jump scares and terrifying characters throughout, so if you're looking for a good scare, then this movie is for you. But surprisingly, the movie isn’t all just about the scare-factor.

The plot and sequence of events made sense and flowed really nicely. Rose’s backstory and decision-making made sense to her character, but I did feel that some of the other characters were underdeveloped and didn’t really add anything to the story.

For example, Rose had a fiance who didn’t really add anything besides constantly doubting Rose and calling her crazy. The same issue arose with her sister. There was a significant scene of Rose ruining her nephew’s birthday party as a result of the curse, but other than that, her sister was useless to the plot.

“Smile” was very fast-paced, leaving the viewer constantly on the edge of their seat. Despite its thrilling continuity, the ending was meek and disappointing. Once reaching the end of the movie, it became predictable, with only two possible endings.

Since Rose refused to kill someone for her own benefit, the only option was for her to kill herself and for someone else to witness it.

It's apparent that the movie wants to build into a franchise because the curse is passed on to her ex-boyfriend, and that's where the movie ends. But despite this movie being enjoyable and a good scare, there isn’t much more to build off on without it being painfully repetitive.

The best thing about the movie? The genius marketing team bringing the movie from unknown to a nation-wide sensation.


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