Tuesday, March 7, 2023

Smile: an American take on J horror tradition

Greetings, commies!

Who said you can't celebrate Halloween all year long? If you work in the field of mental health, you may find that every day is Halloween. If you haven't watched this mental gem yet, Smile is free on Prime.


After witnessing a bizarre, traumatic incident involving a patient, Dr. Rose Cotter (Sosie Bacon) starts experiencing frightening occurrences that she can't explain. As an overwhelming terror begins taking over her life, Rose must confront her troubling past in order to survive and escape her horrifying new reality.

My thoughts:

I am surprised this was not a remake of a J horror movie. The concept of generational trauma and curse being passed around is very common in Japanese genre staples like "The Ring" and "The Grudge". It's actually an expansion of a shorter film that the director produced two years earlier in 2020. The film has so many themes and layers, namely the exploration of the mental health workers and the burden they carry every day. Having worked in mental health, I can say that many people go into that field because of some tragedy or trauma in their own lives. In some theological traditions there is a concept of possession, when an otherwise healthy person is taken over by a malignant entity. In this particular film the evil entity arises from a traumatized brain and takes on a life of its own. The film was criticized for some of the similarities with "It Follows" and "The Ring", but it's really hard to come up with original concepts. The writer/director is not guilty of plagiarism by any means. He merely capitalizes on some of the universal fears. 

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