Smiley Movie Review
Written by Joel Harley
DVD released by Signature Entertainment
Directed by Michael J. Gallagher
Written by Ezra Cooperstein and Michael J. Gallagher
2012, 96 minutes, Rated 15 (UK)
DVD released on 14th October 2013
Caitlin Gerard as Ashley
Melanie Papalia as Proxy
Shane Dawson as Binder
Andrew James Allen as Zane
Liza Weil as Dr. Jenkins
Roger Bart as Professor Clayton
Despite being a rapidly ageing twenty-seven years old, I have never thought of myself as being particularly old, per se. Horror films tend to skew towards a younger audience, but I doubt there will ever be a time when I stop enjoying movies in which young people find themselves chased and chopped up by psychopaths with weird faces. Then I watched Smiley, a film about an Internet meme turned serial killer, and I began to doubt that hypothesis.
I love a good meme as much as (more than) the next guy – I like Dolan Duck cartoons, watched that 'Double Rainbow' guy on YouTube about five times in one sitting, and actually own a 'Forever Alone' t-shirt. Smiley made me feel older and stupider than any other slasher film I've ever watched. Smiley is a film in which the human (ish) embodiment of an emoticon is summoned by typing 'I did it for the lulz' into the film's version of Chat Roulette three times, whereupon he appears and murders the participants in the video. It's like The Ring and Candyman, crossed with a really dense version of Urban Legend. It made me swear off the Internet for a very long time, Twitter aside, but I follow Stephen Fry, so I can't be accused of proliferating Internet stupidity.
“Just like Freddy Krueger!” exclaims one character, as Smiley makes his existence known. Maybe, but it'd be the Jackie Earle Haley version at best. He's got a great look, but his victims are vile, his appearances far too fleeting. Most of the film is spent watching teenagers with names like 'Pedobear' call one another 'retarded' repeatedly while fiddling about with their never-switched-off gadgets. In terms of quality, it's a lot like the urban legend slasher film Chain Letter, which also stars a bored Keith David. His scenes here are reminiscent of that episode of The Simpsons in which Chief Wiggum keeps typing things up on his 'invisible typewriter.' David and Roger Bart are the saving graces of Smiley, the former looking very confused, the latter bringing a curious touch of existentialism to the otherwise dumb story. The filmmakers try to make it meaningful and important, but that's impossible in a script which has characters using the 'word' lulz, without irony. There are some gory kill sequences, a fine idea or two, and Smiley's admittedly scary design, but the final twist is predictable and the story uninteresting. Lead actress Caitlin Gerard tries her best, but her character is inconsistent and annoying, veering between disinterest, mild amusement and all-out hysteria as Smiley steps up his campaign against her. The film has the good sense to at least make a Social Network joke, but by then it's too little too late.
It's surely only a matter of time before we get a Slenderman feature. Until then, Smiley is more than happy to step in. I can't recommend it. Not even for the lulz.
Video, Audio and Special Features:
Video, audio and special features will not be graded as this was a screener.