Smiley (2012) **
D: Michael Gallagher
C: Caitlin Gerard, Melanie Papalia, Shane Dawson, Andrew James Allen, Liza Weil, Toby Turner, Roger Bart, Keith David, Jason Horton
Plot Synopsis: A myth involving a serial killer named Smiley comes to life as an unsuspecting college student tests out the urban legend by typing "I did it for the lulz" three times with a video chat partner only to have Smiley appear and kill off the random person she was chatting with online.
Review: Have you seen the cover art for Smiley?You gotta admit that this Smiley character looks quite striking, doesn't he? It's that striking look, that could potentially make Smiley an iconic horror movie villain. Unfortunately, for this Smiley character, he ends up becoming a bit part, in a film that bears his name and a plot that is supposed to revolve around him.
In the film, our main heroine messes with the Smiley urban legend, only to see Smiley pop out of nowhere and kill the person she was chatting with online. Panicked and terrified, she goes to the police. They don't believe her. They assure her, that she's being pranked. She tries to get other people to believe. They don't. This forces the main character to dive hide first into the world of Smiley. As she tries to figure out what's going on around her, the film's central protagonist starts to slowly lose her grip on what's real and what's not. The panic, confusion & disorientation that this character is feeling, is palpable.
However, it seems to take forever, for anything to happen. First, there's the film's repetitive scare tactics, such as characters who pop out of nowhere only to scare one another. Or, there's inexplicably spooky noises coming from who knows where. It's one false scare after another. While these type of scare tactics are good for a cheap thrill, they don't do anything to help move the film's narrative forward.
Instead, we're left to watch as the main character becomes a bit more bonkers, a bit more scared and a bit more out of touch with reality. It all becomes rather monotonous after a while and that's a shame. After all, Smiley could have been a great deal of fun. The material involves tall tales, superstitions and urban legends. These are the type of stories that we grew up listening to and that most of us have an automatic fondness for.
At the end of the day, Smiley is a middle of the road effort. It never fully takes advantage of it's premise, it's villain or the appeal that these types of films have for horror fans. On the other hand, it's nowhere near as bad as its reputation would leave you to believe, but it's not an overlooked genre effort waiting to be rediscovered either. It's a very average film. [R] 95 mins.
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