Recently: “Smiley”

Horror films may be popular in any form or sub-genre, but that doesn’t mean studios should go forward with every idea that pops into some unknown person head. More often, than not, the final product will not have been worth it and the stupidity of it all will be revealed by viewers and critics.

The Fever Productions and MIJ Productions film “Smiley”, there’s a feeling that you’re in for a new kind of horror film, but sadly it may be just another recycled film from years gone past.

This slasher horror film stars Caitlin Gerard (“Zach Stone is Gonna Be Famous”, “Ruth & Erica”), Melanie Papalia (“Suits”, “The Den”), Shane Dawson (“MyMusic”,”Shane Dawson TV”), Andrew James Allen (“Small Time”, “Syrup”), Liza Weil (upcoming “How to Get Away with Murder”, “Bunheads”), Roger Bart (“Episodes”, “Revenge”), and Keith David (“Enlisted”, “Adventure Time”).

The film is directed by Michael Gallagher (“Interns”, “Storytellers”) and written by Gallagher (“Interns”, “Storytellers”) and Glasgow Phillips (“Undead or Alive: A Zombedy”, “Father of the Pride”).

The film was originally released on Oct. 12, 2012.

For me, I think part of the reason this even evoked a slight bit of fear was because I allowed the film to make me slightly paranoid. With these types of films, particularly if you can manage to not be distracted with other things, and are watching alone, a certain level of dread can be achieved. This level, a bit, was mainly successful because of the disturbing creation for Smiley. If that hadn’t been just plain creepy, it may not have worked. I blame, also, that there’s a certain level of realism, with Smiley, that can definitely unnerve someone. And by realism, the creepy notion that there’s a psycho killer on the loose.

Beyond this small tidbit, the film was a waste. I view the idea, of an urban legend pushed through technology, somewhat intriguing. And way less irritating than that of “Sadako”. It brings something more modern to the front and doesn’t rely on old ghost stories or other urban legends, to try and tell a creepy story. That’s why we already had “Urban Legends”, to some degree of success.

The problem with this film lies in the fact that it was wanting to be some kind of slasher horror film, and it couldn’t be. I didn’t see it as having nearly enough of the action that should’ve been there to make it an effective slasher. Deaths? Yes. However, I’ll acknowledge that I think with this film they were trying to be different with the approach to killing off characters. And, ultimately it wasn’t scary enough anyway. I was usually bothered by the appearance of Smiley because he was just plain creepy.

Another issue that I had was that, while this film didn’t really have bad acting, it wasn’t anything great. Particularly with the lead, Gerard. At times all she seemed to be was too overdramatic. I was sometimes intrigued by the paranoid level she started to take, and that nobody would listen, but after awhile she became too annoying and stupid. Whether or not Smiley was this real thing or not, which is explored in the film, one shouldn’t seek out the crazy person. Somehow it just seemed dumber than that of what Jennifer Love Hewitt did in “I Know What You Did Last Summer” or anything else from the ’90s, which, let’s admit, this is exactly what this felt like. A ’90s film that forgot to debut during that time.

There’s also the fact that, for a pretty short film, it took a long time to get to anything of interest. There were characters that shouldn’t have been lingered on for all that long, but were. I didn’t end up caring all that much about them, and they ended up being only minor characters in the end. So, as the film took its time getting through the dull stuff, to set up a kind of mythology, I found myself less interested.

That ending… Whether or not you ultimately like the film or not, let a lone choose to watch it, I’m not going to directly spoil it, beyond this critique of it. The ending really sucked. Whatever good qualities the film had, wiped away in an instant. It took a film with a decent premise and basically crapped all over it. Such a let down. Then, in a quick shift, the writer gave something akin to an alternate ending, and made me wonder what to believe. It served as the final nail of a film that couldn’t achieve much success. It also makes me wonder, what kind of commentary is this supposed to be? The ending was way more ridiculous than the overall story that made up this film. Such a waste.

A horror film, it turns out, is only as good as it’s premise and overall execution. If these two things can’t come together nicely, it’s not going to matter how disturbing the killer’s face looks in the end. I’d like to believe that people would leave the slasher genre alone, but I don’t think that’s going to happen. Some smaller and lesser known horror films should probably just stay that way. It’s for the better.


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