Reviewed By

Christopher Armstead
I'm watching this slasher flick 'Smiley' based JUMP SCARE on some kind of random internet chat website JUMP SCARE that I've never heard of.   So what director Michael J. Gallagher has done, in a script he also co-wrote is taken this website, created a new urban JUMP SCARE legend in the character of Smiley who kills obnoxious people who get on this website after typing some inane comment three times JUMP SCARE in the chat box.  Did it work?  No, I don't think it did because 'Smiley' combines new hip internet yakity yak with probably the most basic horror conventions I've seen in a long time, one of these conventions being, arguably, the most blatant over uses of the JUMP SCARE that I believe I've ever seen.

Stacy, as played by actress Nikki Limo, is sexily lying on the bed doing something when she's jump scared by the kid she's babysitting.  Since Ms. Limo was blessed with a nice round booty, and since director Gallagher was focusing his attentions on this booty, I was thinking that this booty was going to be one of the stars of this movie, which would've made this movie kind of awesome.  But alas, Stacy the babysitter was murdered by Smiley, via jump scare, but before that happened she's jump scared by the father of the kid she's babysitting.

Next we segue to this movies defacto final girl, Ashley (Caitlin Gerard), who is starting college and has lucked up and found an awesome place to live with the slutty girl going by clever non de plume of Proxy (Melanie Papalia).  School might start tomorrow, but Proxy convinces Ashley that should party hard, on what I'm guessing is Sunday night, smoke some of the weed, imbibe massive quantities of alcohol and watch some people type nonsense into the chatbox to summon Smiley, which shocks the hell out of poor Ashley. 
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No worries though because it's all fake, right?  So Ashley jumps up the next morning and rushes to the one class she's taking this semester, Theoretical Nonsense 101 as taught by the esoteric Dr. Clayton (Roger Bart), who will say a lot of things, say them very well, and these will have relevance to what's happening.  I just don't what that relevance is… but that's on me, not the filmmakers.

Things get worse for poor Ashley when Proxy convinces her to chat with somebody and type in those words three times to see if anybody actually dies, and damn if it doesn't happen and damn if Smiley isn't real.  Now Ashley's descent into psychological hell begins, tortured by Smiley, people all around her dying, cops not believing, shrink thinking she needs to be committed, and her professor is especially concerned… about getting that ass.  Maybe Binder (Shane Dawson) the pushed around geek can help?  Maybe Zane (Andrew James Allen) the paranoid asshole hacker knows what's up.  Or maybe Ashley is just crazy.  Oh my… a jump scare.  What a surprise.

I watched 'Smiley' with my sixteen year old son by my side who served as my translator.  Now by profession, since this thing I'm doing here pays very little, I am an IT Professional so I know what the word 'proxy' means and I can setup and deconstruct a network with the best of them, but alas I am a social internet retard.  My son, on the other hand being a teenager and all, informed me that the majority of the cast of 'Smiley' are YouTube stars and that the chatroom site this film based on is 4chan, which he also informed me that the site has devolved into a festival of virtual circle jerking.  I'll take his word on that.  He also hipped me on a lot of the jargon, like when a character said Chocolate rain which apparently means viral video.  Where I was able to help the boy was in deconstructing how basic a horror movie 'Smiley' turned out to be, and about thirty five minutes in he was able to call out the jump scares even before they happened, because they were so blatantly telegraphed.

This, all by itself, makes 'Smiley' a pretty lousy horror movie though there are other factors which also didn't help such as a cast of characters you can't wait to see die, a group of actors who were generally ineffective as these characters we can't wait to see die, and plot devices that were lifted from other superior horror movies.  We could probably levy a lot of that issue on a writer / director who is all of twenty three, not that a twenty three year old can't make a rockin' horror flick, but this one came off leaving me with the feeling of someone whose creative mojo came from the limited experience of watching other horror movies.

It's all too bad really because Smiley himself was kind of cool.  The Smiley mask was suitably horrific and does seem marketable so hopefully the filmmakers can get recoup some extra loot selling it during Halloween, and the concept of chat room killing people
will always find favor.  The professor's tendency to spout out deep philosophical concepts was interesting, and because Roger Bart is such a good actor he made this stuff he was saying sound intensely important, but his depth and this movies overall shallowness didn't mesh together all that well.  And then we had the inclusion of the dulcet tones of one Keith David whose mere appearance in a movie raises it up two notches.  I also told the boy, when Keith David's name popped up in opening credits, that either he's gonna be a wise loon spouting sage nonsense… which was Roger Bart's role… or a cop.  He was a cop.  What surprise.  I would've made him a nontraditional college student just mix things up a bit.

If you've never, ever seen a horror movie before, there is the chance the first ten jump scares will work on you and the references to other horror movies will be lost on you and you might enjoy 'Smiley'.  Then next ten jump scares will probably kill it for you however, even if you've never seen a horror movie.
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