“What if he comes for the people that call him?”

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Smiley (2012)

Written & Directed by Michael J. Gallagher

  The only thing I recall about this film at the time it was released being literally, hearing about it coming out; viewing the cover. So sure, checking it out two years later may seem a bit silly to some but the mere fact is, that if I don’t find an immediate interest in something right away, it doesn’t bother me taking years to eventually check said something out. In fact, often a rarity that I kick myself wishing I wouldn’t have waited. And while utterly tempting to just dive right into the many things of this film in which I had a problem with, I suppose some small basis of description is needed before proceeding.

 The plot (if nice enough to refer to as such) follows Ashley (Caitlin Gerard), whose return to college came with a bit of hesitation of her fathers part. Insistent that she could either stay on campus or in the least, closer to home. Already indicative of either something having happened in her past or simply being so immune to the outside world that she simply needed to be watched. Though choosing to live with roommate Proxy (Melanie Papalia) leads to poorly made decisions already when within the first night, is invited out to an anonymous party, offered drugs and mass amounts of alcohol and in turn, late for the first day of classes. Or rather, class. That’s right people, we’ve got a movie to burn through!

The real meat of the script belonging to an Urban Legend concerning Smiley. A myth surrounding him stating that if while video chatting on the internet and envisioning the death of the person on the other side, typing “I did it for the lulz” three times and that after such Smiley would appear, killing said person. An interesting concept on its own, sounding rather easy in all honestly. For who hasn’t wanted to kill someone online in some fashion at one point or another. Except that while everyone around Ashley seems to find such a hilarious concept, the notion of him also going after those who type such begins to form a paranoia surrounding her. Claiming to be followed by and even attacked on a particular night of getting slightly buzzed at one of Zane’s (Andrew James Allen) parties. Those around her not only finding her completely insane but suggesting that she see a therapist. A second for her now as Dr. Jenkins (Liza Weil) inquires about Ashley’s past with medication, previously prescribed lithium for her Bipolar-ness that streamed with the suicide of her mother her Senior year. Slowly weaning herself off of such due to it making her “all fat and stupid,” which as anyone knows, are two completely unredeeming qualities in a person. Though not stating right away what had brought on her recent visit, she chalks it up to her “dreams” seeming too real, prescribed Ativan and sent along her merry way.

The big reveal or what eventually comes to light is that this entire thing, everything that we have been watching, has all been one practical joke to be played upon Ashley. As to why, well it is mentioned that Zane along with Binder, played by Shane Dawson, happen to be super geniuses when it came to the interwebs and were able to find anything about anyone online. So perhaps knowing her history and the capabilities turned into more of a matter of bullying their first victim as opposed to trying their hand at someone who could actually survive such an ordeal. Daring to compare themselves to Anonymous, but…no. Using the cruelty of their game played as a measure of showing how a small group can have a certain amount of power, yet trying to push blame on social media when they in fact were what was wrong with such to begin with. Sure that this Smiley persona would manifest within any of the other twenty campuses having plotted the masks at, simply creating this quite elaborate game of trolling, for the lulz. Hoping to create the first viral serial killer, as though everyone involved in the scheme would actually be capable of getting away with such.

Now I shall state one thing in favor of this film. For it mislead me within the first six minutes of viewing. Because there were a few “jumps” associated with angles and the sound effects thrown in that I thought could be promising. Yet as the film progressed, I quickly felt deceived in that you discover all too soon the lack of talent about to permeate through the next ninety minutes. It was perhaps more difficult to distinguish between who was the worst Actress between the characters of Ashley and Proxy, who surely gave the other a run for their money. “You get a razzie award, and YOU get one;” kinda made me feel a bit like Oprah. The cool crowd, which was hard enough trying to get past, was composed of poindexter, token black guy and their fearless leader Zane. Who was really only second in command to Binder, the perceived nerd everyone hated when in fact the true mastermind behind such devious acts. Yet the motive for him, really any of them was non-existent. “It’s the millennium, motives and incidental.”

Because if in fact all one big ruse, then it takes away from the entire intro or the explanation from the little girl being watched in the beginning. Except of course, to pertain to the audience. With the absurd notion that these “killings” occurring oh so randomly online would actually be able to be found as easily. Or as though some type of Police force wouldn’t get involved if in fact so nonchalantly thrown online. There was just too much working in these kids favors that simply was upsetting to be able to follow it, on TOP of the acting.

Though there were a few familiar faces; Liza Weil (Gilmore Girls), Keith David (They Live) and Roger Bart (How I met Your Mother). They couldn’t help such with such small roles and uninvolved characters. The information learning in the Professors class teetering on High School level simply to be appropriate for the scripts sake. When at the end of the day it’s a matter of whether we as Horror fans would want to see Smiley come back, since they do leave it open-ended. But he was made up, we knew nothing really of him, as much I would perhaps wish to see his character done in a completely different matter, I run the risk of being forced to sit through another atrocious rendition of whatever this was trying to be. Which I’d have to all together pass on.

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