New horror movie Smile proves even just a grin can be terrifying if captured right. Parker Finn, writer and director of the strange, mystifying monster movie, explained to the New York Times his technique behind making a smiling face utterly spine-chilling.
“I’m sure we looked ridiculous,” he starts. “[The key to the smile is] a dead gaze that’s a total mismatch to the smile; a human face that pushes you into the uncanny.” This description stands up against the performances on-screen, where several cast-members employ the wide grin with a certain kind of deadpan fixation. It becomes a little more threatening and specific later, but to start it’s all about that empty gaze.
This is what made Smile’s viral marketing effective too. Just people, in crowds at sports matches and the sort, staring right into the camera. Not bothered about what’s going on, not flinching, targeting you right through your screen. Makes you squirm just thinking about it, right? That’s a great visual, right there.
The proof is in the pudding for the response to Smile. So far, the thriller movie has brought in over $35 million worldwide at the box office, proving there’s still plenty of life in original horror.
Sosie Bacon stars in the film, as a nurse who finds herself plagued by strange visions after a patient purports to be haunted by some unseen, unheard force. She eventually realises there’s something very grim going on, and she has limited time to figured it out.
Smile is in cinemas now. Have a look at the best Netflix horror movies if you want more chills.