Thursday, April 18, 2013

DBH Redbox Theatre:Smiley(2012)

By Eric Polk-
It's been awhile since I've written an actual movie review, let's see if I can remember the beats. As you may or may not know, one of my two favorite sub-genres of horror is the slasher. Yes, it's very formulaic and at times silly but as my dad once said, "If you've got ten bucks and you're going to the titty bar, you'd better get the most bang for your buck." One of the old man's best bon mots. Anyway, it is true the majority of slashers I've watched over the years have disappointed me, but once in a great while, you find that muddy diamond in the toxic waste of celluloid. This is the case of last year's Smiley.

This movie takes the Candyman and Bloody Mary mythos and puts a modern-day spin on the tale. An urban legend about video chatting online and typing "I did it for the lulz" is told in the opening scene and comes to fruition for a poor bastard. Later on, a young, naive college student Ashley and roommate Proxy move into a house together. After getting acquainted they go to a party hosted by Zane, an internet hacker, and Binder. At the party Ashley hears the story of Smiley and doubts its reality. The next day Ashley and Proxy decide to try the Smiley test by typing "I did it for the lulz" three times in a video chat with a random user named Flasher, who is mysteriously murdered. The girls are terrified but decide not to report the incident to the police.

Days later, Proxy and Ashley attend another party and Ashley asks for more information about Smiley. Intoxicated, she runs into Smiley, who teases her and rips her shirt. She wakes up the next morning in her bed. She tells Proxy what happened, but Proxy dismisses it as a dream. They visit Zane, who tells them that, despite his ability to retrieve most information on the web he has no clue as to what's happening. She decides to leave, but while walking home Zane pulls her away and confronts her about what she did.

Terrified and paranoid, Ashley tries to convince Proxy of what is happening, but her roommate leaves. She goes to one of her college professors, Clayton, who scares her further. She tries to get help from a cop, Diamond, who thinks she's crazy and shrugs her off. She goes to Zane’s house and is shocked to find him dead. Ashley grabs Zane's gun just as Smiley appears and chases her until Smiley loses track of Ashley.

There is a really great twist ending that of course I will not give away but it is a jaw-dropping moment. While many critics drubbed this movie, dismissing it as a Candyman rip-off, I'm on the other side of this opinion. Yes, it's not a very innovative film but few slashers are. The movie is well-acted for a low-budget film and rather suspenseful.  Next, there is a rich psychological depth to this film that is rarely seen in other films. It is great to see Ashley start out as this college girl ignorant of the ways of the world then slowly and surely going nuts. Third, it's fun to watch. The mark of any good slasher, imo, is 'Will I enjoy this?'. You will with this movie. Think of it in terms of your favorite 80s dormitory slasher and you're good!

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