You'd be hard pushed to find a creepier horror trailer this year than Smile. That slightly crooked sinister grin, looking directly at the viewer through the brows. Walking that uncanny line between a smile and a grimace, clown like and unsettling.
Also promised, the idea of a relentless creature that passes itself from person to person. A viral infection that is invisible to all but those who possess it.
It's a familiar concept of course, from Ring, it's sequels and American remakes, to the more recent It Follows. That idea of a creature passed on by your actions, having to choose to sacrifice someone else to save yourself, and the steps people will take to do that, is one addressed multiple times. The infectious foe is so familiar to audiences now it's hard to believe that a new version of it can be compelling, especially when it seems to lean so far into the style and tone of previous iterations.
Unfortunately that worry isn't entirely unfounded. While Smile has a lot to merit it, it doesn't seem to really do quite enough to stand out from other, similar films.
It boasts good performances, an interesting use of colour palette and cinematography, and a horrifying premise. It is however overlong, not using that time to give us any explanation or background for the creature that plagues our hero, psychiatrist Rose Cotter (Sosie Bacon). Instead, plumping for a series of slightly repetitive jump scares, that soon become tiresome.
The finale offers a slightly more interesting escalation, but is again formulaic. There is very little we haven't seen before and more effectively.
However, held on it's own merit, it's entertaining enough. Ultimately it is likely to rest on how much of a horror fan you are. For casual viewers, it may do what they want, for keen fans, it is unlikely to cause much of a scare.
SMILE is available to Download & Keep on December 14 and on 4K Ultra HD™, Blu-ray™, and DVD December 26