Review: Smiley

02 Nov

The DVD Pile

Smiley DVD 001There have been a few films that have played around with the story concepts in this thriller but even naming them would probably be a spoiler. I have been very unimpressed by attempts by film-makers to tackle internet culture and social media and despite a few accurate sounding name-drops and cultural references this film doesn’t really buck that trend. It starts out quite well but I got a bit fed up by the middle and the ending was a total face palm.

Ashley (Caitlin Gerard) is just starting college but her father is not sure if she is ready because she has been getting treatment for bipolar disorder after her mother died. She is sharing a house with another student called Proxy (Melanie Papalia) and that name is little on the nose. Proxy is pushy and brash and talks Ashley into coming to a party.

This party is for people who met on-line on a message board and Proxy drops the names 4chan and Anonymous when she explains it to Ashley but Ashley is unfamiliar with those names. The host is a real sleaze called Zane (Andrew James Allen) and the other guests are bunch of self-centered nasty little pricks except one guy called Binder (Shane Dawson) who gets kicked out of the party for having some moral standards. There are people on a computer using some anonymised chatroom application and talking about Smiley. This is a highly derivative urban legend where someone is chatting with someone else and they type “I did it for the lulz,” three times then Smiley appears and kills the other person and we see this apparently happening. Proxy actually lampshades the original Bloody Mary legend when describing it.

Everyone else is laughing it off but Ashley thinks it might be real. Later back their house after convincing themselves that it can’t be Proxy and Ashley decide to test it out to see if it is true. They choose some sleazy guy who insists on baring his flesh to the camera and wants them to do the same. Ashley types the words three times and they giggle at his reaction. Their giggles come to abrupt halt when a masked figure kills the man and leers at them. They are freaked out and though there is still room for some doubt they are convinced the guy was really killed.

Ashley wants to go to the police or the FBI but Proxy convinces her that they have no evidence. The anonymous protection on the chatroom means they don’t know who was killed or where. Ashley agrees not to tell anyone but she has nightmares about Smiley.

Ashley visits a psychiatrist and tells her about her anxiety but avoids telling her the details of what is making her anxious. She also talks to Binder who has some strange ideas about what Smiley is. At least he seems to believe her.

Zane contacts Proxy and Ashley and it turns it he is just as scared as they are since he can’t get in touch with many of the hackers in their group. They think Smiley is coming for them and Ashley tries turning to the police but just as Proxy had said earlier they have no bodies and no evidence any crimes were committed.

The climax of the film is the most disappointing part of the film and I really hoped they wouldn’t go with the ending that they used. I really wanted to see something different instead we get a twist that wasn’t too surprising. The film didn’t have lot of big budget effects but the deaths looked real enough. This film reinforces exaggerated fears about the internet and social media rather than offering any real insight into it and It’s just another schlocky thriller.

Rating 5.0/10

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Posted by on November 2, 2013 in Entertainment, Film


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