This article contains spoils but if you don’t care about spoilers or have already watched the movie then here is an honest review of “Smile”
Before entering the theater, I didn’t expect much from “Smile” because based on the trailer, I thought this was a creation follow-up to “Truth or Dare,” a movie that didn’t get me particularly excited. From the creepy smiles to the contagiousness of the death curse and the jump scare in the trailer, I thought this movie only held entertainment purposes. But after going through one-third of the film, I realized I made a big mistake. The scare tactics in “Smile” may not be creative, but the way the film borrows horror material to express the effects of psychological trauma was pretty impressive. The depiction is so accurate that it made me as a viewer feel haunted.
All of the victims in “Smile” had experienced the shock of losing a loved one in the past. For example, the brother of Professor Gabriel Munoz passed away from an incident that happened 20 years ago, and Laura Weaver witnessed her grandfather’s death right in front of her. Other than them, for our main character, Dr.Rose Cotter, her trauma is not just mental pain but also the guilt that she had toward her mom. Flashback to when Rose was a child, she ignored and ran away the day her mother committed suicide because she was too scared to witness or help. The guilt that she carried was too big which prompted Rose to become a psychologist to help those that were in the same situation as her mom.
We can conclude the fact that the targets that the deadly curse is aiming towards were those who have experienced psychological trauma. The question here is why where they were the victim of smiles?
If you notice both Laura and Rose hate to reveal their weaknesses in front of others. At the film’s beginning, Laura strongly opposes the sanity test questions from Rose. Not only that, she repeatedly emphasizes that she’s not crazy. Rose herself often hides her negative emotions and always pretends she’s happy with a smile. An example when she can’t hold her anger anymore, she puts out harsh words to her sister but then immediately admits to being wrong in the first place. This was due to the fact that she never felt comfortable with the space that they were in which is why they never expressed their true feelings. They worried that if they expressed themselves too much, they would receive unexpected reactions such as indifference or pity. This has been constantly repeated in the film as no one is willing to deal with other people’s mental health problems. Another reason trauma victims hide their true feelings is that they don’t want their unstable state to become a burden or make others hurt.
Which turns a smile into a tool for them to control their emotions and maintain normal communication with people. The problem is that the habit of self-ingesting such negative emotions has turned their mind into a balloon without any room for air. And when something hits hard once again, the balloon is likely to explode.
Most of the victims in “Smile” start off with signs of depression and their memory starts to slip. In other words, smile not only did not help them resolve the pain, but also the main agent that makes them depressed.
The main message that “Smile” wants to send to the viewers is not to let anyone deal with psychological trauma alone. Many people think that those who are strong or have a deep understanding of this issue can overcome it all by themselves. But in fact, what they are facing is an enemy that comes from within and therefore difficult to overcome if they rely only on themselves, like Rose. Even a doctor with full knowledge of psychological trauma, there is still no way to overcome that deadly trap, since she knows too much about the trauma itself it becomes more difficult to get passed. Just like the others, Rose doesn’t want to die and still bravely fought until the last second but clearly the wiser the person is, the more cunning demons they must face.
The fact that no victim of the curse can live more than seven days shows that it cannot be underestimated. Rose has a habit of hiding her negative feelings instead of sharing them with others. So when she actually went out and sought help, she must be in a really scared and helpless situation. It’s only a pity that Rose’s hopeless plea for help was not answered. This indicates that Rose kept seeing smiles around the people that she is with showing that she subconsciously feels all of them are not well-intentioned. For people whose minds are on the verge of breaking, having no one to trust is actually more fatal. If their trust is constantly being undermined/destroyed they themselves will gradually lose the ability to trust others. That is also the reason leading to the tragic ending of Rose. In the end, she completely lost the ability to trust anyone and once there is no hope, it’s easy for people to choose to give up everything including themselves.
For those who have relatives or friends who are facing problems similar to Rose’s tragedy as a reminder not to turn your back on them. Everyone knows that supporting people who are traumatized by psychological trauma is not an easy thing because it requires not only patience but also sacrifice, and knowing how to accept risks, especially mental risks. The least you could do is listen to them so they know that this world still holding on to them.
The greatest value that “Smile” brings is helping viewers understand the feelings of people who have psychological trauma.