Horrible Reviews’s review published on Letterboxd:
I'm generally not that good with like scary scary movies, so I put off watching Smile for a while, assuming it was one of those actual scary movies. Now I finally watched it and it was fine? But not that scary?*
I feel like it was mostly just a rather generic modern horror flick. Story-wise it's kinda like The Ring meets It Follows, but lacking in any distinctive style. Even though I'm never great at being able to tell where a story goes or how it ends, it all just felt so, predictable? Formulaic? Two-dimensional characters mostly defined by their job, the protagonist conveniently knowing a cop, who'll help her when she goes on her own investigation. It all feels like we've seen this before, with overused tropes like the protagonist having to convince the rest that what's happening to her is real with no one believing her. Sure, there's the themes of trauma and what not that gives it some depth, but even that is slowly becoming a bit of a cliche trope.
None of this is necessarily a bad thing! Like, it's a fun popcorn horror movie, I just don't think it does anything to really set itself apart! So I think a 3 star rating is pretty fair.
*I want to try and keep my Letterboxd reviews short, but I always get so worked up over the use of jump scares in these kind of movies! Like, I've had discussions with friends after seeing this about how did this become the norm in horror? When (and why!) did we start to confuse "scary" with jump scares? Honestly, besides the use of a handful of jump scares I don't think this movie was scary! And that's besides the fact that jump scares ARE NOT SCARY to begin with! They startle you, for sure (which I hate), but that's not scary? Sure, a jump scare can be earned and justified, if it's well implemented and timed/placed in a (atmospherically) creepy scene, but here you literally had a cut-away shot to the next day or so? With a car breaking with loud screeching/screaming sound effects! That's sooo cheap and not scary. Anyway haha before I get all too carried away, I do find that an interesting discussion, and I realise it's pretty subjective in the end as some people love the "thrill" of jump scares, I personally would just love to see a movie that actually scares me with dread, tension and atmosphere rather than sudden scary visuals and loud sound cues.