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YMMV / Smile (2022)

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  • Alternative Character Interpretation: When the Smile Entity caused Rose to hallucinate a murder, was it simply messing with her again, or was it purposefully trying to prevent her from doing the one thing that could actually save her? If the latter, did Robert Talley manage to commit a murder while infected by sheer luck, or did the Entity want Rose more than him for some reason? Or perhaps the entity simply learned its lesson from what Robert did?
    • Is it possible that the Entity let Robert get away, because it somehow knew that it would lead to Rose?
  • And You Thought It Would Fail: The initial reactions to the trailer were wary due to the familiar premise and the Narm of a monster that presents itself through smiles. The film went on to have a positive critical and audience reception and a very strong box-office debut of $22.6 million, only dropping by 18% in its second weekend (it falls only behind Get Out's 15% in terms of a second-weekend drop for a horror film).
  • Complete Monster: The Smile Entity is a malevolent demon that feeds on trauma. Its modus operandi being possessing its victims and forcing a twisted smile on their faces before making them graphically kill themselves, the Smile Entity then latches itself on a witness to repeat the process. When Dr. Rose Cotter becomes its latest target, it psychologically abuses and gaslights her, including driving her to unconsciously kill her cat and giving it to her traumatized nephew as a birthday gift. When it seemed Rose successfully overcome her childhood trauma and defeated the Smile Entity, she discovers that she fell into an elaborate trap and immolates herself beginning the cycle anew with Joel as a witness.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse: Rose’s ex-boyfriend Joel is well-liked among fans for being pretty much the only character in the main cast to actually listen and understand Rose’s situation. He’s very patient, kind and aims to help her no matter what. Needless to say, it was quite the downer to see his fate by the end of the film.
  • Fandom Rivalry: With Barbarian, due to both being socially conscious horror films released around the same time in addition to being solo directorial debuts. Smile fans consider this film found to be much scarier, disturbing, serious and a more cohesive film than Barbarian which they found to be too comedic, over-the-top, and taking too many leaps in its narrative structure to be taken seriously. Fans of Barbarian on the other hand, found that film to be much more unique, creative, and unpredictable compared to Smile, which they felt was far more predictable, generic and highly derivative of other horror movies.
  • Fanon Discontinuity: Some fans despise the Downer Ending and would pretend that the movie ended when Rose killed the entity, overcoming her trauma over her mother's death, and burned down her old home.
  • Friendly Fandoms:
    • With Hereditary, due to both having similar themes relating to familial trauma and mental illness, as well as having an extremely bleak tone (even more so than most horror movies).
    • Despite there being a rivalry between the two, many people who liked Smile also liked Barbarian and would even say watching both back-to-back would make for a great double-feature. Helped by the fact that the directors of both films respect and admire each other's movies.
  • Funny Moments:
    • Rose straight up cursing out Holly and her husband when they persist in talking about uncomfortable subjects during their dinner at a restaurant.
    • Trevor commenting on how Rose broke yet another glass in the kitchen.
  • Memetic Mutation: "Get in loser, we're going naked." Explanation 
  • Moral Event Horizon: The Smile Entity is well past it by the beginning of the story, but the moment Rose starts treating it like an imminent threat is when it kills her pet cat Mustache offscreen and delivers his carcass to her nephew Jackson, a child, as a twisted birthday present in the presence of at least 9 other children, traumatizing them all in the process and traumatizing them further when it Jump Scares Rose into falling on a glass table and mutilating herself in front of all of them.
  • Narm:
    • The scene where Rose hallucinates stabbing a defenseless Carl in order for her to escape the curse while Dr. Desai watches in horror. What sounds like a decently horrifying scene on paper can quickly become humorous when Carl starts laughing after Rose stabs him about twenty times. It gets even funnier due to Dr. Desai's over-the-top reaction to it and when he starts peeling his own face off, which comes right out of nowhere considering how it was already established that the Smile Entity’s MO was to present smiling figures to Rose.
    • The way Rose slowly backs out of the house when she thinks she's defeated the Entity is low-key hilarious. It really looks like she's saying, "Okay, I'll just... go, then."
    • Carl yelling “You’re going to die! You’re going to die” over and over again can definitely come across as ridiculous for some.
    • All the actors vary in their attempts to make the smile look creepy. While some look genuinely unsettling, others can look downright laughable.
  • Narm Charm:
    • The premise of a ghost-like entity haunting someone through smiles is a little ridiculous on paper, but the film makes it work thanks to how intense and nightmarish the entity's appearances are.
    • Rose’s nightmare about stabbing Carl is very over-the-top and made many theatergoers laugh their asses off but many consider it to be one of the movie’s highlights as it is one of only scenes in the film that seems to fully embrace the ridiculousness of the film’s schlocky and narmy premise.
  • Nightmare Retardant:
    • If you don't find people smiling inherently scary, both the film and the trailer come across as downright ridiculous.
    • The cliché demon voice filter used for the Entity, especially in the scene where it impersonates Dr. Northcott, is pretty hard to take seriously. Not to mention the equally cliché Evil Laugh it sometimes does.
  • One-Scene Wonder: Caitlin Stasey as Laura in the scene that starts the plot rolling. She really does convey the horror and despair of an otherwise intelligent and decent young woman who knows that the curse has doomed her. Her desperate use of You Have to Believe Me! with Rose makes you feel for her plight, one that Rose will soon find herself in.
    • Similarly, Rob Morgan as Robert Talley in his role as the only survivor of the curse, as his murder of someone else allowed it to pass to the witness of the murder, not suicide. Upon realizing that he's speaking with the person the demon is currently haunting, his reaction is perfectly over-the-top desperate to get the hell away from her!
  • Realism-Induced Horror:
    • While the film's main threat is a supernatural one; the kills are brutal; jumpscares frightening, and features truly unsettling imagery. For some, the scariest thing of all is Rose's plight - nobody is there for her during her crisis until it's too late, and everyone in her life, including her own family and fiance, dismisses her troubles and fears as her mind starts to deteriorate. Many struggling with isolation and mental illness found these scenes to be even more terrifying than any of the scenes with the Entity.
    • The scene where Carl describes the feeling of despair to Rose. There is no indication that what he’s referring to is the Entity. Rather, he’s simply describing something everyone has felt at least once in their life, complete and utter hopelessness.
  • Signature Scene:
    • Laura's Slasher Smile right before a self-inflicted Slashed Throat, which is the central image of the film's publicity.
    • The scene where the Entity imitates Rose's sister and walks up to her car window, detaching its head from its neck to smile at Rose.
    • The ending where the Entity's true form is revealed.
  • Special Effects Failure: The CGI during the hallucination of Dr. Desai peeling off his face is brief, but fairly unconvincing.
  • They Copied It, Now It Sucks: A criticism of the film is that it borrows—or outright steals—various elements from other horror films such as It Follows and The Ring and plays them off for diminishing returns. It also owes quite a bit to Hereditary, recreating two pivotal scenes almost shot-for-shot. Even the central idea of a shape-shifting evil force that makes its presence known with creepy smiles is not original to this movie, as it was done before in Truth or Dare (2018). The way the entity warps people's perceptions of reality is quite similar to the hotel room from 1408 and the cursed mirror from Oculus. Even the concept of a monster representing repressed trauma and guilt was seen in His House, though that film was more ambiguous in its take.
  • Too Bleak, Stopped Caring: Just like Rose's mental state, this movie is a real downward spiral, not helped by much of the cast being uncooperative and unhelpful. Rose's fiancé and sister are both a Horrible Judge of Character who immediately keep their distance from Rose for an act that they should have known was extremely unlike her (although her sister could be justified due to their mother's past and the birthday party fiasco). Joel is good to her and one of the few other characters who is remotely understanding but even then he's barely able to be of any help to her. The brutal Downer Ending especially made the movie very upsetting as a whole to endure.
  • Trailer Joke Decay: The infamous Jump Scare of Rose's sister twisting her neck to smile at her in the car was easily the most popular part of the trailer and shared constantly online. Therefore, watching the film, it's no longer too much of a surprise.
  • Unintentional Uncanny Valley: The Smile Entity takes on a human form and its only dead giveaway is that it’s often seen sporting a wide, unnatural smile. The fact that it looks human just with that one detail is what adds to the scariness.
  • The Woobie: Rose goes through the wringer over the course of the film for something that was completely beyond her control. She experiences a series of strange occurrences, each one more distressing and horrific than the last, that eventually results in the death of her cat, the dissolution of her relationship with her fiance, her family keeping their distance from her, the questioning and crumbling of her own mental state, the uncertainty of her job status, and finally, her failure to escape the curse and subsequent brutal death where she merely passes the curse onto Joel.