03 January 2013

Smiley 2012 - REVIEW

I ran across this poster a while back and it immediately grabbed my attention for obvious reasons. It's a very intriguing glimpse into something that could have great potential. Then, of course, I had to find out everything I could about 'Smiley'. What is it about? Who made it? When will it be available? Have you ever watched a film solely based on what's in that 24" x  36" space? I know I have. I did it with Laid to Rest and I did it with Severance and even though I'd heard nothing but horrible things about Smiley, the poster was intriguing enough to me to make me want to watch it. If you think about it, a movie poster is a viewers first impression of a film and whether they hold that same impression after the fact is a completely different story.

A young woman tests the urban legend about a murderous maniac who can be conjured from the Internet, and begins to fear that her sanity is slipping away. Somewhere in the deepest recesses of the World Wide Web, a killer waits to strike. Ashley (Caitlin Gerard) thought Smiley was nothing more than an online myth. But Smiley is real, and he won't rest until she's proven wrong in a pool of her own blood.
Full of a mostly fresh faced cast, there was nothing really overly amazing about the acting here. The urban legend, mythical being, slasher, whatever you want to call him, Smiley was one of the best things about this film and he never said a word... just ran around poking and slicing through most of the cast. Gerard fumbled her way through what was admittedly a subpar script. And that scream... Ho-ly hell! Her scream is so high pitched that had I been standing next to her with a knife I probably would've stabbed her myself. If you were expecting YouTube sensation Shane Dawson to breathe some life into it, you'll be disappointed. And Andrew James Allen's character?? Well I wanted him dead within the first few minutes. I dunno if that was suppose to happen but that was definitely the way it came off. Roger Bart is the one that stole the show for me. One of the more "seasoned actors" he belted out his lines while managing to stay sufficiently creepy. I didn't have a read on which direction his character was going, and that's a good thing.

The film suffers in several different areas... 1) There is a severe lack of character development. We're given a whole cast of characters to root for and the only one that really has a backstory is Ashley. The audience really has no one to cheer on. 2) It's riddled with one jump scare after another, after another. I counted two within the first five minutes. A successful horror film will never have to rely on jump scares to frighten an audience. 3) Subplots. There is at least one subplot that is never explored. Meaningless characters that pop in and out but really serve no purpose in moving the story forward are just a distraction. There are other ways of revealing information throughout the course of a film without introducing insignificant characters. Filmmakers, even new ones, have to respect their audience.

Director and co-writer Michael J. Gallagher definitely had some great ideas. The concept of the film was great. They managed to take elements from the 90's era slasher and blend it pretty well with the issues of today's social media sites. He just tried to say SO much that the real message gets lost in translation. In fact, Smiley is so "meta" that people who aren't very tech savvy might find it hard to understand. And what is Smiley? Is he a manifestation of the damage one person can inflict on another using only a keyboard? "Trolling", after all,  is the new hip way to bully via the internet. We all see it happening every day. People grow some really big balls when they're hidden behind a computer screen. Is he an energy that transports from one unlucky person to the other via the internet? In the end, the story is wrapped up with a twist that while not overly predictable, it does come off as kind of a cop out.

Having said all that, I don't hate this film. I actually kinda dig it. I just wish I could tell you why. Perhaps it falls into that "so bad it's good" category. I honestly can't say but I would totally watch it again. Hell, I'll probably buy it when it's released on DVD/Blu-ray. Never have I come across a film that has so many things wrong with it but I like it anyway. In fact, going off the set up and content of the film alone, if Freddy Krueger and Candyman defied the laws of nature and had a bastard child I imagine it would be a lot like Smiley. Add someone with a little more experience, better funding, some script supervision and A LOT of polish, I could see this being a successful franchise. Sorry!!! I know that's not what most people are expecting to hear from me but if you look at it a different way, it's a good premise for today's horror. We as a community constantly complain about remakes and reboots and beg for new ideas and when someone does it, the majority hate it. Yes, Smiley is a cockeyed version of something that's been done a million times over but what film isn't? There are very few ground breaking films out there and if you break them all down, you'll always find some element from some other film. So, if you're like me and get into the "so bad it's good" film, then I'd suggest giving it a go but if you watch it and hate it, remember that I DID point out the bad :)

Synopsis Source: Fandango

No comments:

Post a Comment