Smile is a memorable horror film for a number of reasons, from the genuine scares of Parker Finn’s atmospheric direction to the scares of a mere smile. In fact, the force behind those smiles is one of horror’s most memorable recent threats and could be an indicator of the film’s potential as a franchise. And one of the best parts of Smile is the film’s commitment to leaving the details of the Entity vague while defining it as a threat – quietly setting it as a potentially perfect horror movie monster for future stories.
At the heart of Smile is the nameless and mysterious Entity. The malevolent and mysterious force ripples through the trauma, targeting the host’s perception of reality and shattering them on a mental level before overtaking them and forcing them to commit suicide. Presence is neither explained nor explored, with no exposition dump to explain how this force exists and why it was created. Instead, it’s more of a horrific force of nature in the film, shattering Rose Cotter (Sosie Bacon) and ultimately shattering her defiant attempts to avoid and overcome her.
How Smile’s Ending Sets Up a Grim Franchise
The film ends on a negative note, as Rose’s attempts to confront her own traumatic history ultimately fail to free her from the Entity. Instead, he outruns Rose and forcibly possesses her before forcing her into flames right in front of her ex-boyfriend Joel (Kyle Gallner), presumably spreading the curse on him. By its very nature, the Entity has a great deal of power as a monstrous force, capable of spreading from person to person with little rhyme or reason. A good chunk of the film is dedicated to revealing how the entity works – and how little there is to stop it. The only guaranteed way is to break the chain by murdering someone else – spreading the trauma to someone else but sparing the life of the victim. This continues the Entity’s spread and quietly confirms its longevity as a storytelling device.
The Entity is a unique horror villain, even against the backdrop of a massive force that crawls into people’s mouths. Besides having little clear motivation beyond breaking people down and forcing them to spread his trauma, he’s an infinitely versatile monster. The entity could appear as anything to anyone, playing out any number of traumatic scenarios. The monster’s psychological and cerebral elements – a clear parallel to how mental health is often stigmatized in Western culture – give it additional power that could be explored from all sorts of perspectives. In theory, the Entity is a perfect horror movie monster, reflecting gruesome real-world challenge while being flexible enough to be applied to all sorts of stories.
Where the Smile franchise can go
Smile has already proven to be a big hit at the box office, and the filmmakers might choose to make an extra chapter of the story. It wouldn’t feature much of Rose for obvious reasons, and the storyline of Joel being implicitly doomed could easily allow the channel to travel elsewhere. Smile has the makings of a potentially enduring franchise that explores the impact a broken mind can have on someone and uses it to discuss heavy topics with the gritty yet effective side that the horror genre naturally generates . The entity can appear to other people in different forms, relying on different types of fears for different people. Smile could be a potentially very flexible story going forward, and the entity could be a memorable force but malleable enough to generate a lot of storytelling potential.
To see the potential of The Entity, Smile is currently playing in theaters.