Smiley Review

Smiley (2012)

Starring: Caitlin Gerard, Melanie Papalia, Shane Dawson
Directed by: Michael J. Gallagher

Do you remember Totally Sketch?

I do. I remember mostly that I just didn't really care for Michael Gallagher's work. But then this trailer came up for a new horror movie coming out that he was directing and I was torn. On one hand, I didn't care. But on the other hand, that mask! So I waited and waited and was finally able to see Smiley. Le sigh...

Smiley is about a girl who discovers an internet urban legend regarding a serial killer with the titular emoticon carved into his face. When her college mates begin dying off one by one, she must figure out if she will be the next victim or if she is merely going insane.

Now, I wouldn't be lying if I said I wanted to like this film. There were some things about Totally Sketch I did enjoy. Some skits were good. Um...Nikki Limo is hot. Yeah, that's really about it. But that being said, when a new horror movie comes out, regardless of how I feel about the makers, I at least try to get into it, simply for the sake of horror. Even Michael Bay has had his hands in some decent horror.

Anyway, on paper, Smiley seems like a fun concept--take a bunch of YouTube stars and kill them in a horror movie. What could go wrong, right? Well, in this case, just about everything.

Starting off, I did enjoy the idea of the plot to Smiley...but then again, I loved Candyman and liked a few Bloody Mary based movies, so I suppose that's par for the course. At the least, there is decent pacing for the hour and a half this movie lasts. One thing I didn't care for, though, is how this movie is supposed to be horror, but summoning Smiley feels more like it belongs in a comedy. Especially whenever someone does it on camera. When the phrase "I did it for the lulz" is repeated three times to your video chat buddy, Smiley, appears and kills them. That alone stops the movie from aging well. Bloody Mary and Candyman--timeless.

One thing I can say is however much I like the majority of this cast in their own personal spaces, DeStorm Power, Shane Dawson, Richard Ryan, Toby Turner, etc, as a whole they did NOTHING for me in this film. Then again, I will say Shane Dawson wasn't bad, actually. And I know all of these actors have talent, but due to what I feel was poor writing and direction, a lot was lost in the making of this movie. It really did feel like an average, trying-too-hard Totally Sketch skit that lasted way too long.

I almost liked Proxy, Melanie Papalia's character. I mean, I loved her in Postal, but in this movie, her character is just too sardonic to not make certain twists a little too obvious. I almost felt bad for Keith David and Roger Bart as well. Based on their acting, this movie seems like it was something they may have had genuine faith in. Something they thought could be good. But their talents were largely wasted in a sea of shallow acting and poor screenwriting. Not even a naked Nikki Limo could save this movie. There was a Mr. Repzion cameo I enjoyed for the quick moment.

The atmosphere set in the trailer differed largely from how it was in the movie itself, which I suppose isn't anything too outlandish or unheard of. The problem, though, is you set yourself up to watch an interestingly creepy movie and are left with something that's more jump scares and subterfuge, which isn't cool. At the least, some of the Smiley appearances helped a little, but not enough to make this movie worth it.

Like I said before, I do love the Smiley mask. That's almost the full extent of the good special effects in this movie. I don't mean they suck, I just mean they're almost non-existent. There's some blood and knife stabbings, but not much else. There is a scene that involves a major character crashing through a window (not trying to spoil anything for those wanting to watch), but there isn't much to it beyond CG effects.

After finishing this movie a second time to make sure I didn't miss anything, I think I can say I won't be watching this one again unless I have to. I suggest you, the reader, avoid Smiley yourself. What could have been an interesting take on the "Bloody Mary of a new generation" comes off as vapid, formulaic and flabby; almost a social experiment in how much shit one person can handle before they want to eat glass. I don't think Michael Gallagher should quit doing what he does because, hey, he was actually on to something here. I just think another pass at it without the YouTube-esque hijinks, a better, more seasoned cast and some actual gore could make a remake of this film shine.

Oh, and I will give Michael one thing: around the one hour mark, he does have a good cameo. I really did like that.




Special Effects

Overall Rating: Just A Flesh Wound

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