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The Most Disturbing Horror Movie Is Trending On Streaming

Smile is the fourth most popular movie on Paramount+.

By TeeJay Small
| Published

Caitlin Stasey in Smile

Punxsutawney Phil has seen his shadow, ensuring six more weeks of couch bound weather, perfect for catching up on some of the scariest films of the last few years! According to FlixPatrol, 2022’s Smile is climbing the streaming charts, appearing at #4 for Paramount+. The highly disturbing film was a box office hit, with audiences flocking to theaters following some of the most well executed viral marketing we’ve seen in years.

Smile is the debut feature length film for writer and director Parker Finn. Finn was offered a deal with Paramount to produce the feature, based on his hit short film Laura Hasn’t Slept, which premiered at the SXSW film festival in 2020 before being put on Youtube for audiences to watch for free. The short film impressed executives at Paramount so much that they optioned a feature film to premiere on their streaming service, but initial test screenings for Smile went so well that the film was given a full theatrical release.

The film follows Sosie Bacon’s Rose Cotter, who works as a doctor in a psychiatric ward. Early in the film, Caitlin Stasey reprises her role as Laura from the short film, and passes along her curse by killing herself after flashing a menacing creepy smile. After witnessing this event, Dr. Cotter begins to have hallucinations of increasing severity, seeing horrific smiling faces everywhere she goes, driving her to madness.

The film has a supporting cast of Jessie T Usher, Kyle Gallner, and Harold and Kumar‘s Kal Penn. Despite some reviews suggesting the film is drowning in its influences, leaning too heavily on material inspired by The Ring and It Follows, the critical and audience reception of Smile was largely positive. The film grossed over $200 million dollars on a budget of only $17 million, and serves as the highest grossing R rated horror film of the pandemic era.

Sosie Bacon in Smile

A viral marketing stunt brought tons of additional attention to the film, when several Major League Baseball games throughout the United States aired with paid actors occupying seats just behind home plate. The actors wore shirts which displayed Smile‘s name and logo, and aimed their creepy smiles directly into the camera, getting the word out to a large base of home viewers. Eagle eyed viewers may have also seen an actor perform the same marketing stunt in the audience of the Today Show, though that iteration caught less attention.

Director Parker Finn has gone on record as saying that the smiles in the film are all real, and used no computer enhancements. Apparently the studio wished to enhance the actors’ faces with CGI, but Parker argued that actual smiles would be much creepier, grounding the film’s look in an aesthetic of gritty realism. Smile calls upon the innate human response to uncanny valley in order to bring its audience into a state of major discomfort.

If you’re looking for a horror film to keep your eyes glued to the screen, be sure to check out Smile on Paramount+. The film is sure to continue climbing up the streaming charts, as it enjoys one of the smallest ever second week box office drops of the last several years.

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