Later, Ashley and Proxy try it one more time just to prove to themselves that it's fake, but to their dismay, Smiley once again shows up to slice and dice a stranger on the other end of the chat. Things get worse when members of their inner circle begin to die, and it appears that Smiley is turning the tables on his summoners.
The End Result
And what better place to witness man's inhumanity to man than on the Internet? In Smiley, 4chan is the target, but you need only visit the comments section of any typical online news article -- particularly one dealing with politics, race or sexuality -- to figure out you've entered the cesspool of humanity. "I did it for the lulz" embodies the juvenile nihilism of typical online discourse, while Smiley himself represents the evil within us all that we somehow feel is appropriate to unleash online in violent, homophobic, misogynistic, racist posts hidden behind the cowardice of anonymity (see 4chan's real-life death threats towards Smiley director Michael Gallagher). Thus, the Internet -- and to an extent, humanity itself -- is a tool through which evil spreads, and beneath its slasher exterior, Smiley understands this and is more than willing to slyly undercut it all.
All of Professor Clayton's smartly penned proselytizing, however, is awkwardly aligned with dimwitted genre clichés and mediocre execution. As insightful as the overall message is, the slasher trappings are bland and nearly bloodless with stilted dialogue, a stiff lead actress and at times painfully low production values. It's bad enough that some viewers will no doubt tune out to such an extent that the message never sinks in -- which is a shame, because unlike the vast majority of horror movies, Smiley has something to say.
- Acting: C (Gerard is a weak lead; Bart steals the show.)
- Direction: C+ (Competent, but low on scares or genuine emotion.)
- Script: B (Smart and exceedingly ambitious, although the more genre-specific, plot-driven dialogue is stiff.)
- Gore/Effects: C+ (Modest gore.)
- Overall: C+ (Surprisingly and refreshingly deep and introspective in concept, but the execution lacks genre thrills.)
Smiley is directed by Michael J. Gallagher and is rated R by the MPAA for strong graphic bloody violence throughout and language. Release date: October 12, 2012.