Thursday, June 6, 2013

Film Review: Smiley (2012)

Smiley (Review)
United States/2012
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: Yes

Babysitter Stacy is told the internet urban legend of Smiley; Smiley is a murderous figure with stitched eyes who appears during video chats if one chatter types "I did it for the lulz" three times. Stacy becomes a victim of the legend...

Ashley moves into a home with Proxy, about a block away from college. The pair go to an anonymous party where they hear about the legend of Smiley. Ashley and Proxy decide to test the legend on a random user, and he is killed. Smiley's presence begins to frighten some of the anonymous partygoers, and it gets stronger and stronger. Ashley is haunted by Smiley, and her past psychological issues seem to resurface; is Smiley real or is she part of a sick prank?

Smiley is a very promising concept that suffers from poor execution. I love urban legends, and this film starts off promising with an interesting introduction to a sickly designed legend. But, as soon as the title card passes, the film fumbles into mediocrity. The repetitive questioning, the dull slashing, and consistently boring jump-scares hurt the film significantly; most of the film revolves around Ashley questioning the existence of Smiley (without researching), the murders are very underwhelming, and the suspense is nonexistent which makes the jump-scares ineffective.

The dialogue is also filled with unnecessarily overused internet memes and slang, which also hurts the authenticity of these characters; in other words, they try way to hard. For a horror film, Smiley offers nothing new or exciting and completes destroys its chances at creating a horror icon; Smiley is poorly utilized and never truly becomes a character in the film. The ending was decent at one point, but the obnoxious and annoying dialogue that goes on and on kills the ending's effectiveness.

The acting was very hit-and-miss. Roger Bart plays a professor in this film, and his performance is authentic; he speaks very fluently, and has the charisma of a college professor; his performance is one of the highlights of the film. Andrew James Allen plays Zane, an internet security expert or hacker, and his performance was solid; he delivers a somewhat believable performance and his dialogue delivery is also smooth; however, his dialogue is littered a lot of unnecessary internet slang. The rest of the acting is borderline horrible. Caitlin Gerard plays the lead in the film, Ashley; she overacts during every other scene, and most of her emotion seems inauthentic - a very poor choice for the lead.

I think most of the acting, from both major and minor roles, are significantly affected by the poor writing. The dialogue is obnoxiously written, while the structure follows generic path; if you watch slashers, you've seen this film before and a lot better/tolerable. Technically speaking, the film is competent; the direction and editing are smooth and easy-to-follow, the music is well-fitted, and the film is shot as it should be. I mean, it's not spectacular or unique, but it didn't give me a headache - it's basically competent. In other words, the filmmakers didn't aim for the stars on its technical aspects, rather they aimed to make a simply competent movie. (it's bland!)

Overall, Smiley starts off as a promising slasher. But, it quickly falls apart as you spend more time with the obnoxious dialogue, the annoying characters, and the predictable plot. Oh, and the film is not scary; there isn't a single scary scene in this film. Hopefully, the sequel will welcome creativity and fully utilize Smiley. Don't bother directly paying to rent or purchase, stream it if you're interested and you're a member of Amazon Prime.

Score: 3/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and blood.

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