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Smile Film: Modern Parable for Mental Illness

Elijah is an American memoirist, former staff writer & creative editor for a college press, blogger, former columnist, and socialite.

Image Does Not Belong To Me

Image Does Not Belong To Me

Symbolism of Smile

Starting off, this horror movie review shall be very different from my previous reviews, and will focus more on the symbolic nature of the film instead of the breakdown of: character, plot, and subject matter.

Society has an abundance of issues and challenges, some rooted in politics but some in many of our personal lives. "Smile" shows us the challenges and stereotypes surrounding those who live with mental illness. As someone who struggles with mental illness, I noticed how the movie portrays these challenges in a disturbingly unsettling, yet tragically real, way.

The reference to mentally ill people as "head cases", "nuts", "fruit loops", and "crazies", is perhaps one of the strongest and unfortunate highlights... if you can call them "highlights." Many people who've struggled with mental illness have been called an abundance of degrading names in their lifetimes, and so it is no surprise that the movie incorporated them.

We also see from virtually every character that no one seems to believe any of the victims of the Smile Demon (I'll refer to it as that). They are only believed and taken seriously when it is too late-- much like how it is when people commit suicide after not being helped when struggling with depression, etc..

There is a presence of a therapist and a mental hospital in the film which are also things that are familiar to most of us suffering with mental illness.

We learn through the film that the demon is only seen by those who have seen or experienced horrific things: murder, suicide, etc., and this is a representation of trauma and PTSD. We carry trauma with us after something horrible happens to us.

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When Rose falls into the glass coffee table I noticed that her glass wounds looked eerily familiar to self harm wounds on the wrists and arms. Perhaps this was an intentional "easter egg" in the film.

The film ends with Rose confronting her "mother", making amends, acknowledging the hurt and trauma she experienced as a child, and trying to conquer it and move on. Which is how we find closure in real life, and how we make peace with the past in order to grow. Although the film doesn't end happily, this is the main takeaway.

My Rating

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2022 Elijah DeVivo

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