Parker Finn’s Smile is essentially The Ring if that distorted VHS tape were replaced with a distorted facial expression. As these jump scare heavy horror pics go, this one usually hits the right notes (including with its sound design).
Dr. Rose Cotter (Sosie Bacon) is a psychologist working at a busy mental ward. She makes the acquaintance of Laura (Caitlin Stasey), who witnessed her professor commit suicide. Ever since then, she’s been traumatized by an unseen being. Laura is a basket case until… she’s not and a creepy grin emerges. Those who’ve witnessed the trailer know that bloodshed follows.
What also follows (it follows… so to speak) is an evil spirit possibly latching onto the doctor and no one believing her. This includes her fiancee (Jessie T. Usher), an ex boyfriend who’s a cop (Kyle Gallner), and her sister (Gillian Zinser). Their skepticism is understandable as a family tragedy when Rose was 10 years old might explain her bizarre behavior.
Besides the mentions of It Follows and The Ring, Finn’s debut (he wrote it too) borrows plenty from earlier genre pieces. While originality isn’t its strong suit, there are a few legitimately hair raising instances. There’s one session with Rose’s therapist that’s far scarier than the bill.
Despite a few unnecessary shots that seem inspired by Inception, Finn seems like a filmmaker to keep an eye on. Bacon (daughter of Kevin and Kyra Sedgwick) is given a few good moments of genuinely convincing terror. This is genre work executed well as these characters smile though their arteries are bursting.
Paramount Pictures is hoping that horror fans are ready to Smile on September 30th. The supernatural fright fest marks the directorial debut of Parker Finn with a cast including Sosie Bacon (daughter of Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick), Jessie T. Usher, Kyle Gallner, Caitlin Stasey, Kal Penn, and Rob Morgan.
This is a genre that’s been well served in September with Barbarian and Pearl (and The Invitation in late August). The trend will continue with Halloweens Ends in mid-October. There could be a bit of fatigue, but Smile may have a feather in its cap. The mysterious and creepy teaser spot played all summer long in front of a little film called Top Gun: Maverick… the one that’s made over $700 million domestically.
A premiere in the $20 million range is certainly possible. However, I’ll say high teens is where this lands.
Last November, The Banker was scheduled to have its rollout at the AFI Film Festival. The period drama tells the true story of two of the first African-American bankers in the United States, as played by Anthony Mackie and Samuel L. Jackson. Yet the picture hit a hiccup on its way to the festival. One of the film’s coproducers was hit with sexual abuse allegations and the premiere was canceled. The original awards friendly December release date was indefinitely postponed. I wrote about it here:
Now The Banker is at last ready for its close up. It opens this weekend on limited screens before a debut on Apple TV two weeks later. That streaming service is attempting to get in the Netflix game with features that Oscar voters could notice.
I wouldn’t bank on this being that movie. In addition to a now unfriendly release date, critical reaction is mixed with a current 69% Rotten Tomatoes score. While Mackie and Jackson are getting solid notices, I just can’t picture The Banker being fresh on the minds of the Academy at the end of the year. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…
The third generation of the Shaft family debuts in theaters next weekend with Jessie Usher playing an FBI agent in the action pic. Arriving nearly 50 years after Richard Roundtree played John Shaft and almost two decades after Samuel L. Jackson played his nephew, both actors are present in the newest iteration. Tim Story (maker of the RideAlong pics) directs with a supporting cast including Alexandra Shipp, Regina Hall, and Method Man.
Reportedly made for a smallish $30 million budget, the studio behind Shaft would love to match the $21 million opening weekend debut of the 2000 Jackson led summer flick. Tracking puts in right in that range. However, we’ve seen reboots disappoint in 2019.
I’ll say this gets to mid to high teens and considering the price tag, that’s not too shabby.
Shaft opening weekend prediction: $16.8 million
For my MeninBlack: International prediction, click here: