Smiley (2012)

Smiley (2012)
  • Time: 90 min
  • Genre: Horror
  • Director: Michael J. Gallagher
  • Cast: Caitlin Gerard, Melanie Papalia, Shane Dawson


Ashley goes to her new college while getting over the death of her mother. She meets some new people there including Binder (‘Shane Dawson’) while at a party and she learns about an urban legend of an online killer that has the nickname “Smiley” who can only be seen on the web and he apparently kills people after they type in “I did it for the lulz” three times. Soon after going to the party Ashley and her flatmate Proxy go online to test it out, with horrific results. She becomes paranoid and she starts to think she sees Smiley all over the place and feels that he may be chasing her, but how can that be if he is not real? Have they somehow released him from the internet?

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  • If there is one thing to say about Hollywood that many filmgoers will agree on is that it’s no longer being original with their material. For most cases this occurs because many film makers, whether being the director, writer or actor are either lazy trying to get their yearly pay or because they really don’t have an understanding of the project they were cast for. On the other hand, it could also be because the process of being original is not the smoothest task to begin with believe it or not. That’s why the category of A-list actors is much smaller by comparison to anything below them. So when looking at horror genre films, it might be easier to understand why there haven’t been many new horror icons of recent memory other than a few. A large portion of popular killers came from the 1970s and 1980s. After that, the challenge became much steeper for anyone who came after. Like much film students nowadays, much were inspired and influenced by such films. The director to this movie, Michael J. Gallagher, probably has been subjected to the same experience.

    Having a script also written by the director already brings into question whether this could be made competently. As for the final product, it shows that Mr. Gallagher may have not been ready. Viewers are introduced to college freshmen Ashley (Caitlin Gerard), the daughter of a widower who lost her mom to suicide. After moving in with her friend Proxy (Melanie Papalia), they learn that a strange craze is taking over the campus. The craze is using a random Internet chat roulette program. When somebody wants the other person to die (of course, because any does), they type into the chat forum “I did it for the lulz” three times. As a result, the person gets stabbed by a character only known as Smiley for his face looking like an over fanatic fan of Zack Snyder’s Watchmen (2009) pin. After Ashley and Proxy try it out for themselves to see if it was real, they get nervous and begin to feel like they might be next on Smiley’s hit list.

    Directly taking ideas from the “Bloody Mary” urban legend, the script is a giant mess of confusing logic with a number of other flaws. If anything, the killer has a grotesque design but even then it’s also nonsensical. There’s very little to talk positively about here. The cinematography handled by Nicola Marsh (Twenty Feet from Stardom (2013) and Pearl Jam Twenty (2011)) kept the camera steady for the most part. Marsh also gave as many clear shots as he could even for the lighting in this movie. The only other plus is there are roles filled in by some Internet / veteran celebrities most notably Shane Dawson. There are a couple others but the script makes them sound unintelligent and boring. Writing overall isn’t convincing either. There are moments where the Ashley character is focused on due to mental disorder but it’s only used to further the illogical story telling. Then there’s Roger Bart (the singing voice of Young Hercules in Disney’s Hercules (1997)) who plays what seems to be Ashley’s only college professor of an unknown class.

    Bart plays his character so strangely, he feels creepier than the villain. Not only does he openly address classmates strangely in public; he also likes to constantly stare at his students and casually drink whiskey (like its coffee, without even flinching) on his down time. What’s up with this guy? Really the only purpose for Bart’s role is to give obvious script fodder to the viewer so the main character continues to try and figure out their situation. Finally topping off the disappointment of actors to be seen here is veteran Keith David playing the head of the local police who does nothing but ignores Ashley’s claims. He’s probably the best part but also the worst because of how he’s not used to the film’s advantage. It’s Keith David! As for the villain himself, he too is sorely lacking any kind of development. With a backstory rushed in at the first five minutes at the beginning of the film it only shows how much thought was put into this character.

    Apparently this character stitched his eyes and mouth shut. First, how did he do it on his own? Plus, how can he still say understandable words and clearly see? And where did his nose go? Was it surgically removed? Making things even more confusing is how this villain operates. How does he know when you type “I did it for the lulz” three times? What if you do this to two different people at the same time from two different locations? There’s no motive for any actions this individual takes. It makes no sense. The kills in this film are nothing to praise either. There’s nothing that looks overly painful or gross. It’s very standard with typical stabbings and shootouts. The scares are pointless too because all that Mr. writer/director knows how to do is jump scares. Lastly, the musical score to this production made by Dave Porter was of no importance as well. Almost entirely atmospheric, the film score is largely dull in several areas of the running time. There’s no main theme or recognizable motifs for anything. It’s really close to not worth it.

    Aside from okay cinematography, internet and veteran actors having roles in the film, there’s not much to enjoy other than how ludicrously inept the characters are made from a script with enormous plot holes. The horror aspect is MIA and the violence has no invention behind it.

    Points Earned –> 3:10

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