Arts & Entertainment

Pandemic-linked fears weaved their way into ‘Smile,’ director says

By Guillermo Azabal

Los Angeles, Sep 29 (EFE).- American director Parker Finn told Efe ahead of the premiere of his new horror film “Smile” that the picture was shaped in part by the Covid-19 pandemic and the collective fears associated with that health emergency.

“Throughout the history of cinema, horror has always done a really great job of holding a mirror up to society and all of our collective anxieties and fears and the stuff that we’re all feeling,” he said.

“Certainly, I was developing and writing this film during the pandemic. And the fear of isolation, the fear of the unknown, the fear that something out there is coming for you, definitely crept its way into the script for me personally. And I hope that audiences pick up on all of that.”

Due to be released nationwide Friday in the United States, the picture is centered on Dr. Rose Cotter (Sosie Bacon), a therapist who is forced to deal with childhood trauma-related mental health issues after witnessing the suicide of one of her patients.

“I wanted to create something that was really intensely psychological in nature,” Finn said. “It has these big sort of bombastic scary moments inside of it. But I wanted to do something that was a character story, that was following this woman on a journey that kind of feels like a nightmare and might get under an audience’s skin and make them reevaluate how they look at the world.”

One of the keys to the movie, a feature adaptation of his own short film “Laura Hasn’t Slept,” is Finn’s ability to make viewers doubt whether what they’re seeing is part of the film’s “reality” or a figment of Dr. Cotter’s tormented imagination.

“I wanted to make a film that explored what it might feel like to have your mind turning against you, and this fear of not being believed and this fear of the unknown that I think is really universal,” Finn said.

“And I wanted to place that into hopefully a very compelling character drama (and) then take these supernatural, larger-than-life elements and all that external stuff and weave it together with the internal stuff until it would become indistinguishable from one another. And suddenly it’s all just pure anxiety and fear.”

The film also is notable for taking a basic element of human emotion and connection – the smile – and turning it into a diabolical grimace that warns of imminent danger.

“Smiles are meant to be a symbol of friendliness or happiness. We also use them to mask our true intentions or feelings and sort of keep the world out,” Finn said.

“And I wanted to see if I could take all that and turn it on its head and allow the evil in the film to wear a smile as a mask and turn it into the promise of a threat, or something incredibly dangerous, and see if that might creep audiences out.” EFE


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