Make Me.

Main Cast: Harriet MacMasters-Green

Director: Francesco Gasperoni

So you’re all alone, you’re bored, you’ve got 94 minutes to kill, DirecTv is out due to a storm or something, the fridge is empty but the car is out of gas, your house is clean, you’ve no more books to read and you’re wide awake. Even then, even when there is literally nothing else to do, I wouldn’t advise bothering with Francesco Gasperoni’s 2009 film Smile.

The premise is nothing new, but can be interesting when done right (it isn’t here). College friends on a trip to Morocco (and if ANY of these people are actually college age, I’ll give them $1) when one of them, Clarissa, has her camera stolen, so she buys a new one. When I say new one I mean new to her. The camera itself is a 1960s model instant camera, sold to her for $25 by Armand Assante.

The group then piles into a van the next day and heads off to the Atlas Mountains to go camping. They get lost and meet up with a local hunter who lets them stay at his camp overnight. During their trip, however, the friends realize that whoever the camera takes a picture of dies in a mysterious way hinted at very vaguely in whatever the picture was. For example, one girl is shown in a picture alone with tree behind her, so she’s pinned to a tree. One of the guys, his picture is overexposed, so he’s struck by lightning. Another girl is holding a shovel in her picture, so a shovel flies off a wall and impales her.

The friends all drop one by one while Clarissa and one of the other men try to figure out how the camera is killing people and where it came from. In the end, they get an internet connection out in the middle of nowhere and Clarissa stumbles upon a very conveniently posted article about the man and his camera.

When I first read the synopsis for Smile I thought it sounded like it would be dumb, but still enjoyable in a cheesy way. I was so wrong. Smile isn’t enjoyable, it isn’t cheesy, it’s just dumb.

Maybe it’s the terrible script. Maybe it’s the worse acting. Maybe it’s the mundane style of Gasperoni. Most likely, though, it’s a combination of all of them, and more.

I didn’t like any of these characters. None of them could be bothered to shut the hell up for one minute and let someone else talk, so they could just maybe start to work together and get out of the woods. Or maybe when the dude is flash fried by a lightening bolt you stop suggesting it was a serial killer. DER!!!

Sometimes I see a movie that is so bad, I’m tempted not to review it just because I don’t feel I should waste more time on it than I already did just watching the thing. That was almost the case with Smile. I was SO close to saying forget it. But, really, it’s so bad I felt I had to put the warning out there for whoever would listen.

It amazes me at time how wrong something can go when it starts off with so much potential. Not that Smile had a lot of it; like I said, the characters are all idiots and the dialogue was obviously written when Gasperoni was 15 and still learning English. But still, the idea of a killer camera, while nothing new, can still go so many interesting places in the horror genre. But then you factor in a cast as bad as this one, production quality this mediocre, and Armand Assante two decades past his prime alongside half a dozen of never-weres and never-gonna-bes, and the result is this: 94 minutes I’ll never get back.

I guess I asked for it, though. I never look at the ratings on Netflix when I’m looking at movies. If the premise sounds like it could be cool, I’ll watch it. So, my fault. But if, God forbid, there were ever another Gasperino movie made available to me, that’s a mistake I will most definitely not make twice!

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