Directed by Michael Gallagher
Starring Caitlin Gerard, Melanie Papalia, Shane Dawson, Andrew James Allen, Liza Weil, Toby “Tobuscus” Turner, Roger Bart, Keith David
Released on October 12, 2012
Running time: 1h 35m
Internet-inspired horror movies. I’ve tackled one of these before with Feardotcom.com.
You go on an anonymous chat network that just does video rather than both video and audio (apparently that’s the case with this movie released in 2012). You type “I did it for the lulz” three times into the chat box. And then a guy named Smiley appears behind the person you’re talking to and kills them. Who is Smiley? He’s a serial killer who can be summoned through the Internet. He stitched his eyes shut and carved his mouth into a giant Glasgow smile. He’s essentially a living, breathing emoticon. I’m not surprised that you haven’t heard the urban legend. It’s too unrealistic and silly to be true.
Our story begins with a young woman texting her boyfriend. The first shot is clearly focused on how good her ass looks. Which it does. Exactly one minute and thirteen seconds into the movie, we get our first jumpscare as the young girl that the young woman is babysitting startles her. And the jumpscare is almost exactly as loud as the ones that I panned when I reviewed The Forest. Damn. The young girl goes up to the computer in the same room to get on a chat room. It’s not Chatroulette or Omegle. It’s a fake site created specifically for the movie called HideandGoChat. And HideandGoChat allows video but no audio. Come on, Smiley; you were not only released in 2012, but you were all about being trendy; get with the times. This movie is already so effing dated! Remember Cyberbully, that terrible movie that everyone had to have smoked something to have liked? It made the same mistake by creating its own tacky-looking website called Clicksters. Anyway, after a brief conversation between the babysitter and the girl which reaffirmed why I’m not stupid enough to go on sites like these, the girl mentions Smiley, which the babysitter has somehow not heard of. The girl asks,
GIRL: You haven’t heard the urban legend?
Actually, no. We haven’t heard the urban legend of Smiley. And I’m pretty sure that in the real world there is no such urban legend. And as the girl told the babysitter about the urban legend (I’m amazed it’s not the other way round), I found myself asking, “Why would anyone with even the slightest notion of logic, reason, or morality do this? Curiosity? Malice? Who knows? And why is this opening clearly ripping off the openings of The Ring and Candyman?” Seriously, the whole “Smiley” business sounds so silly and awkward and stupid, yet the movie plays it completely seriously! Why would Smiley have carved a smiley emoticon into his face? I don’t know; he was bored, I guess. Maybe he wanted attention. How does he show up behind people and kill them at a moment’s notice? I don’t know!
After a jumpscare with the babysitter’s father startling the babysitter, the father takes the little girl home. The babysitter is in her room on her computer, chatting with a random person, who, in several different shots, does the same eyebrow raise because this stupid movie just replays the same second or two of footage over and over. Wow. The person, seemingly at random, types in “Too bad I have to kill you”. Briefly freaked out, the babysitter looks around her house (why? Is the chat coming from inside the house?), only to be faked out by an open door. Without calling the freaking cops, she returns to the computer. For some reason, she doesn’t immediately X out of the chat room. We get a look at the chat log, and we see that she’s instead going to get the jump on him by typing in “I did it for the lulz” three times. I need to emphasize that this shot of the screen shows that it’s her typing this in, but the movie is trying to say that it’s the other person typing this in. The next shot shows the computer screen from over the babysitter’s shoulder, and it clearly shows that the person on the other end typed the phrases in. This is a really rookie mistake that the filmmakers just expect us as an audience to ignore. I don’t know what Michael Gallagher (the director) was thinking when this scene was edited, but he must have gone with the “Ehh, let’s just hope that the audience doesn’t notice” excuse. You know, like a moron. After about ten seconds, Smiley appears behind the babysitter and kills her, much to the surprise and enjoyment of her chat partner, but not the audience. The chat log inexplicably disappears. By the way, why is Smiley wearing a mask with the smiley on it under a pantyhose stocking? I thought he carved a smile into his face?
Transition to a young woman named Ashley (Gerard) moving into a house with a roommate while going to college at Generic University. She and her dad say a happy goodbye, and Ashley moves in. She meets her roommate, Proxy (Papalia). Who on earth named their daughter Proxy? Oh, I know! Because this is a movie about the INTERWEBS!
By now, you will have probably noticed that every scene features awkwardly composed shots and poor lighting. This is because Michael Gallagher makes sketch comedies on YouTube. There’s a reason he never made it past that. The crappy shots, poor lighting, bad sets, and amateur editing become incredibly distracting as the move goes on. Regardless of the quality of his YouTube videos, shite-for-brains shots, shoddy lighting, and poorly designed sets are never okay in a movie. Smiley is a movie. An actual movie. And when Mister Gallagher is using the same effects one would use in a YouTube video in not just a legitimate movie but a legitimate movie that’s being released in theaters, I have to judge it just like I would any other movie. And the verdict is that Gallagher’s movie looks inexcusably aesthetically amateur and unprofessional. It looks like he’s shooting another YouTube sketch video.
Despite just meeting her, Proxy invites Ashley to a party that night which is hosted by – and I’m not joking here – fellow students that she has only ever met online. Come on. If you don’t know the people at the party, then why would you go? Though the party is happening on a school night, Ashley reassures herself that she’s in college, and can do whatever she wants to. Clearly, she doesn’t live in the real world, and is going to regret getting drunk off her ass on a school night. Both Proxy and Ashley look way too old to just be starting college. On the way, Proxy drops oh-so-hip-and-trendy references to sites like /b/ and 4chan and some ugly business going on there because this is an Entarnart movie. Ashley somehow doesn’t even know what 4chan is. Bullcrap; she’s a privileged, entitled millennial that’s grown up with the Inturnetz; how does she not know what 4chan is? Ashley and Proxy decide to get high before going, and they smoke some pot. Yes, Ashley, exhale before the smoke gets anywhere near your lungs. “I think I’m high on your marijuana,” Ashley says. That’s not only a terrible line, but it is precisely why I don’t smoke it. This sequence is allegedly character development, but all that happens is that Ashley and Proxy further cement themselves as insufferably effervescent, obnoxious airheads, with Ashley being incomprehensibly naïve. The two finally go to the party, and they meet Zane (Allen) and his two or three goons. I forget their names (did they even have any?). Zane comes on way too strong to them, but Ashley and Proxy brush it off and continue to talk with him, with Proxy dropping a Days of Our Lives reference. Zane spends the next few minutes establishing his character as an annoying, atheistic windbag, who loves talking about the “strange and retarded”. It’s interesting that Zane is discussing the strange and retarded when he himself is strange and retarded. He’s an annoying little pink pincushion in my underpants.
Ashley, through odd, unrealistic circumstances, introduces herself to a young man whose name is – I kid you not – Binder (Dawson). However, it’s not pronounced “bine-der”, as in a binder that you use in school, but “bin-der”. Who on earth names their son Binder? And why is Shane Dawson’s Creek here? Oh yeah, I forgot – this entire movie is basically a collaboration of Youtubers. Goddammit. Binder establishes his character as the stereotypical bullied kid who has no idea how to act, as Zane and his goons verbally assault Binder with poorly written insults. Why? Because Binder reported some pedophile activity on 4chan to the police, and has now received the nickname of Pedobear. Another Inturnurt reference! You know, I could have sworn that anyone with two brain cells to rub together believes that pedophilia is disgusting and evil and that pedophiles should die slow and painful deaths. Oh wait, I forgot the times we’re living in, when a site like Salon actually gives a self-proclaimed pedophile a platform. The guy tries to tell us that pedophilia is just another sexual orientation on the same level as being gay, bi, or trans, and has the gall to address normal, rational people who think pedophilia is disgusting as “right-wing bigots”. No, really, go check out Todd Nickerson on Salon. You’ll be pleasantly repulsed and insulted.
I’m getting really sidetracked today. Sorry.
Zane kicks Binder out, and Ashley, like a moron, forgets about it. Later, she sees Zane and his goons over at a computer. After she wonders what they’re doing, Ashley is told by Proxy about the Smiley urban legends. Apparently, going online and doing this Bloody Mary wannabe is pretty popular and is oh-so-trendy. Ashley watches over Zane’s goon’s shoulder as he gets on HideandGoChat, meets with a random person, and types in “I did it for the lulz” three times – all without a webcam, yet the screen clearly shows a video feed of his face. Wow. Smiley suddenly appears behind the goon’s chat partner and kills her. Ashley screams, but Zane and his goons laugh, both at her and at the kill. Yes. Because apparently going online and apparently killing people is…funny? Murder! Yay! Though Ashley’s husky but babyish scream did make me chuckle. Either that, or it was the silly, unrealistic situation. I find it strange that the chat room has a window showing this guy’s face, but his inexplicable webcam feed is clearly off. On. Off. I also love how Zane’s goon’s chat room window can show him looking at the screen even when he’s turned away. I’ve already mentioned how ungodly obvious it is that he doesn’t even have a webcam.
Proxy tells Ashley that no one knows if the Smiley business is actually real. Yeah, because you can’t tell if anything’s real if it’s on the Intermanet! Hell, I watched Smiley online without paying for it; maybe it wasn’t real and I can be happy again! Hell, maybe I’m not real! Aaaaaaaaah! After Proxy gives an overlong explanation of what “I did it for the lulz” means, Ashley and Proxy forget rather quickly that not only did Zane and his goons heckle Binder and kick him out of the party, but they just saw someone literally die at the hands of one of the goons. They stay at Zane’s and party all ding dong damn night, getting seriously drunk.
Can I complain about Caitlin Gerard’s acting now? Her performance is bad enough, but it’s bad on the same level as Harmon Stevens as Dr. Masterson in Mesa of Lost Women, Jan Claire as Ellie in Madman, and Amber Perkins in Megan is Missing. By this, I mean that it’s easy to tell that Caitlin Gerard simply is unable to overcome her excitement at being in a movie. She smiles way too often and seems like she’s always about to boil over with giddy exhilaration. Whenever that’s not happening, she’s clearly having a bad day, as she forgets to act and simply announces her lines. Le sigh.
Ashley wakes up after noon with a hell of a hangover. She looks at her alarm clock and realizes that she’s late for class. That is precisely why you do not go to a college party and get amazingly drunk on a school night. Way to freaking go. After running to class accompanied by a crappy pop song and getting there late, we meet Professor Clayton (Bart), who teaches some required class that deals with reason and ethics. Professor Clayton is particularly full of himself. Today’s class – what the hell is Tobuscus doing here? Come on. Nobody even knows who he is anymore. I barely knew who he was; he was a Youtuber. These classroom scenes in which the class talks about such subjects as the scientific method and Occam’s Razor serve no point; they’re clearly there to make the movie seem deeper than it actually is. All that happens is that Clayton keeps blabbering on and on about stuff that has nothing to do with the movie in a really dull monotone. He’ll occasionally go really quiet and then suddenly get really loud and then quiet again. Not only are these subjects and lectures too blunt to fit in with the rest of the movie, but they’re little more than dollar-store philosophy. Yeah, he took a philosophy class. Great. Move on.
After class, Ashley asks Clayton for all her assignments early. Clayton makes a joke about her cumming on to him. Oops, did I say “cumming”? That was an unintentional typo, but I left it there because it felt needed. Was Clayton actually joking or was he being serious about possibly having a hardon for Caitlin Gerard? I don’t care, because this effing character goes nowhere and does little else other than bore the hell out of the audience.
That night, back home, Proxy shows Ashley a “new” video (there was an old video?) of one of Zane’s goons getting killed by Smiley via infuriatingly loud jumpscare. Seriously, this is The Forest levels of badly designed jumpscares. I love how it was video taken from HideandGoChat, but it has sound. I particularly love how the timer suddenly jumps back to one second from twenty seconds when the Smiley jumpscare happens. Also, Smiley is also wearing a smiley mask with a pantyhose stocking over it. Come on, movie. You could clearly afford to show an actual face with a smiley carved into it on the effing cover. And apparently this video has gotten a ton of views in just twenty-four hours. Why in the hell is making Smiley kill someone so trendy? Obviously, the Internet’s a messed up place, but come on. Surely the Antennit has better things to do than focus on what are arguably snuff films. Ashley suggests calling the police, but Proxy condescendingly says that the police will think it’s dumb. Proxy, there is actual video evidence of a young man being murdered. Of course the police will take it seriously. It’s called video evidence. If there is actual suspicion of murder, the police can track down the IP address of the person who uploaded the video. Proxy mockingly and cartoonishly mimics what Ashley might say to the police, unintentionally pointing out just how moronic the basic premise of the film sounds when you read it out loud. Seriously, wow. Regardless, this is not an excuse to not report a murder or a suspected murder to the police. Mentioning that someone might be trying to recreate an urban legend could only ever help the situation. Ashley’s still wondering whether or not Smiley is actually real, and is way too easily comforted by Proxy’s insistence that Smiley isn’t. Despite Proxy’s skepticism, the two of them decide to try it out. Idiots. Why is Ashley at all willing to summon Smiley when there’s even the slightest risk that Smiley could actually be real? The two get on HideandGoChat. During this call, we as an audience learn that apparently Ashley and Proxy can throw their voices, because when the camera is pointed at the computer screen, more than once, we can hear them talking but not actually see their mouths moving on the video feed. Also, more than once, we can clearly see the entire chat log on the screen. The two choose an obvious pervert that 1) shows them (but not us) his penis, 2) asks them to show him their boobs, and 3) asks them to make out with each other. Of course. Proxy tells Ashley that apparently, you need to really want Smiley to kill the guy; you need to picture it in your head. After Proxy says that Ashley has to really want this to happen, Ashley does so, and types in “I did it for the lulz” three times. Because the best way to determine if Smiley is real is to try to summon him to kill someone. Seriously, movie, do you really expect the audience to give two sharts about your characters if you show them intentionally committing murder by proxy and actually wanting this to happen? Hell, they even explain to the poor lamb that this is the case. “Someone is suposed [sic] to come and kill you.” After a few seconds of confusion, Smiley appears via jumpcut with the knife already in the guy’s chest! Jumpscare! Screaming! I love how Proxy laughed at the killing at Zane’s party, but is screaming and freaking out when faced with this particular killing! Ashley starts freaking out, thinking she just killed someone. Yes, you did, Ashley. Whether or not you wanted the guy to die, it’s still at least manslaughter. Manslaughter is a serious crime, carrying a base sentence of ten to sixteen months in prison, with the possibility for a longer sentence if the death occurred via reckless conduct. Ashley continues to freak out, saying that Smiley could know where they are. Ashley, Smiley has only seen you via video chat. Unless he can somehow figure out your IP address from this, which is unlikely, he’s not going to be able to find you. Proxy even say that finding their IP address via HideandGoChat is impossible, as the servers are anonymized. Ashley says that they should go to the police. Proxy claims that if they go to the police that there will be press, and that it will lead him straight to them. First off, if you report a murder, the police will have to keep you anonymous. Second, Smiley can only be summoned through the Intraknot by someone else typing “I did it for the lulz” three times while the both of you are n the same chat room. If you stay off of chat rooms forever, you will be okay. Ashley’s dad calls and they talk. Smiley is not mentioned. I’m amazed that Ashley lives in 2012 and doesn’t own an iPhone yet. She and her dad are still using flip phones. And I love how they can suddenly segue into a sentimental conversation where Ashley displays that she can’t cry on cue. Then Proxy appears as a jumpscare, and Ashley hangs up. The two decide to act like the incident never happened.
The next day, Ashley’s one college class (wow) talks about the scientific method. Ashley’s been drawing an exceptionally detailed picture of Smiley in her notebook that has obviously been pre-drawn by a better artist. I’m amazed that no one, not even her teacher, is noticing it. More BS about the scientific method versus ideology in general is heard before class ends. Ideology is the end of critical thinking? Which ideologies specifically? I love how this movie’s trying to use various scientific things that have little to nothing to do with what’s going on to attempt to make this movie seem deeper than it really is. And this scene is so boring. I particularly love how learning what a hypothesis is is college material.
Ashley goes to the library and searches for some certain books and is jumpscared by Binder. Stop trying to jumpscare us with stuff that isn’t even supposed to be scary! Ashley has the most aggravating grin ever. Ashley and Binder have a supposed-to-be deep conversation about Smiley, how he’s only real because people make him real, and that he’s all the evil on the Antarnat manifested into one being. Uh, if all the evil on the Intahnett manifested itself into one being, I’m pretty sure that it wouldn’t be Smiley. Want proof? Go check out the Deep Web – actually, don’t check out the Deep Web. Seriously, don’t. Don’t do it. Just do some research about it. Don’t actually go on it. In the name of God or whatever deity(ies) you may or may not believe in and all that is holy and just and good and fair in this world, do not go on the Deep Web. It’s dangerous. Ashley seems really happy for having just killed someone last night. As Ashley and Binder talk, the more I realize that these two are going to hook up, the more I realize that they have zero chemistry, and the more I realize that Shane Dawson cannot act. They exchange numbers.
Ashley and Proxy go to another party that night. Ashley talks to Zane, whose goons do not understand the difference between obnoxious and drunk. The goon with the glasses makes a Truman Show reference, breaking the unspoken rule about not referring to a better movie in your crappy one. Zane pulls Ashley off to the side and acts like the video of his goon getting killed was totally serious because he summoned Smiley too and somehow knows that Ashley did it as well. Ashley vomits and decides to go home. Zane inexplicably not-so-subtly suggests sex, and Ashley leaves, but not before Zane suggests that Smiley comes for the people who call him.
As she drunkenly walks home, a guy standing creepily a ways off jumpscares her before revealing that he’s just some drunk partier and not Smiley. She continues walking before Smiley jumpscares her. She runs off and Smiley chases her. Her jeans change from light blue to dark blue to light blue in different shots. I found myself wishing that Smiley would just kill her so that the movie could be over. She gets back home, but JUMPSCARE, Smiley’s already there! He rips her shirt. He corners her in a hallway before grabbing her face, but she wakes up in her bed, realizing that it was all a … dream? All the while, she has the most babyish scream ever. Caitlin Gerard is terrible at being scared. Proxy comes in and mocks Ashley when she tells her about her nightmare, referencing Nightmare on Elm Street. Eff. Ashley’s shirt is still ripped, and Proxy mocks her for thinking that Smiley did it. Wait, Smiley comes for the people who call him? That’s not part of the urban legend!
The next day, Ashley goes to the college psychiatrist. She says that her mom committed suicide and that she was on lithium for a while afterward. And she lies about what’s really going on. The psychiatrist prescribes her Ativan. That’s all.
As she leaves the office, Proxy comes out and jumpscares her! Eff off, Smiley! Proxy tells her that there’s another dead person, and that they have to go to Zane’s because the dead person was another of his goons.
Zane is freaking out, waving around a gun with his finger on the trigger. PRACTICE PROPER GUN SAFETY. He might want to actually load his gun, because when he cocked the slide back, it locked before the film cut away, showing that the gun is unloaded. Zane reveals that he is a super hacker, because of course. Why would he tell them that? I don’t know. Zane tells them that his other goon is dead. The three talk about how Smiley is evil and that he’s hunting them. Gee, what if he’s just a Candyman wannabe?
Ashley goes home only to see that another her is already there, sitting at her computer. She walks up to it and turns it around, showing that the other her has a Smiley face. She wakes up in her bed, revealing that this was a nightmare. If you found that to be legitimately scary, then go jump off a freaking cliff.
The next day, the class talks about Occam’s Razor and the anthropic principle and that humanity is only another step towards creationary perfection – the Imtarmet. Comparisons to Skynet and The Matrix are made. This is where the camerawork gets really awful, being ungodly shaky and failing at its closeups. Do they want us to focus on shoulders rather than faces? I know that this movie was low budget, but tripods are not expensive. More BS trying to make this movie seem deeper than it really is happens, and belief in God is mocked.
Ashley is in the library researching Smiley. She comes across a video of the girl from the beginning telling the Onturnut that she hasn’t heard from her babysitter in a while. Smiley sneaks up behind her, but changes into Binder when she turns around. Wow. Ashley tells Binder that she summoned Smiley and he killed someone. Binder implies that Smiley’s this amazing and powerful evil force and acts eerily apathetic to Ashley’s plight. This freaks Ashley out and she leaves. Binder looks as bored as he always does, and Shane Dawson looks so much like just another dude that hasn’t quite left the “angsty teenager” phase.
Ashley goes on HideandGoChat at home. She looks over her shoulders to make sure it’s safe to go on. Wow. And she just sifts through people until she finds Smiley. Which she does, conveniently enough for the film’s running time. Smiley taunts her, which is when I realized that he’d be pretty funny if he was a frowny emoticon instead of a smiley emoticon. Proxy jumpscares her by standing behind her and yelling at her.
PROXY: What are you doing?!
ME: What are you doing in her room? This is the third time you’ve been a jumpscare in this movie! Eff off!
Proxy leaves for another party. Ashley tries to call her dad. I’m not sure what happens, but a jumpscare happens and she drops her phone out the window.
The next day, Ashley goes back to see the psychiatrist. She fails at making herself cry. She admits that she lied about something, but she doesn’t specify what. She says that she doesn’t want to go crazy like her mom. Ashley, those who are actually going crazy insist that they’re not. The psychiatrist prescribes her a tranquilizer and schedules a psychiatric evaluation for the next day.
Ashley visits Clayton, who displays his nihilism and hatred of humanity. Yes, we get it. Evil is a byproduct of humanity. There’s nothing better you can do to accelerate planetary extinction than to start a family. Destroying ourselves is what we do. We’re just along for the ride. Everything’s going to end, but will it be with a bang or a whimper? Nothing really matters to meeeee. So why is he teaching a reason and ethics class? He even mentions that he’s fully aware of the phrase “I did it for the lulz”. And with that camera angle, I’m more than certain that this was intended to make us think that Clayton is Smiley. That still explains nothing of how Smiley works. This scene consists entirely of a pointless, allegedly deep conversation. Whereas Backgammon’s conversations were ungodly vague, Smiley’s conversations are the exact opposite. And that’s easily almost as bad.
Ashley is in the library typing up a paper when Smiley appears on her laptop. Well, looks like it’s time to get a damn good anti-malware program – smashing the laptop works too. She looks up to see a few students filming her. Ha. I can’t wait for Ashley smashing her laptop to go viral on YouTube. I actually made that same joke when I first watched this movie more than two years ago, but I was beyond shocked that it actually happens later.
Ashley goes home and washes her face in the bathroom, only to get jumpscared by Smiley being in the mirror but not actually being in the bathroom. I love how I can’t tell if Ashley’s screaming or about to laugh. Wow. She goes to sleep later, but she’s jumpscared by Smiley, who stabs her! Multiple Smileys come into her room and they rush her. She wakes up; it was all a dream. She sees her mom come in and comfort her, but it’s actually Smiley! She wakes up from her double nightmare and slams into Proxy’s face, giving Proxy a bloody nose. After a brief conversation, Ashley calls 911 about Smiley. Clearly she doesn’t know about the non-emergency line.
Cut to Ashley at the police station. What is Keith David doing here? Wasn’t Chain Letter bad enough? I really pity this guy, as he’s easily the best actor in the movie, and he’s really trying to make the most of his two scenes. Keith unintentionally points out how stupid this movie’s premise is. (That’s twice, Mister Gallagher. That takes a special level of incompetence.) But Keith David doesn’t believe Ashley! Oh no! But here’s the problem, Keith: you still have to investigate if someone reports a murder! A silly story doesn’t rule out there actually being a murderer! It’s illegal to report fake crimes because the police have to check into them! Not doing so is gross negligence! Keith points out that though there may be victims, there are no bodies. True, but that doesn’t discredit a murder report! There are still missing people! Keith says that Ashley doesn’t know who the missing people are. This is a murder report, goddammit. Someone who reports a murder does not have to know the victim’s name. Keith claims that it looks like there hasn’t even been a crime committed. Yes, but you still have to investigate. That’s why it’s illegal to report fake crimes! Keith says that Ashley’s Smiley report is the first one they’ve taken seriously enough to have their talk. Yeah, because Keith’s totes taking it seriously, like 4 real, even though they’ve had multiple Smiley murder reports. But still, Keith doesn’t care. This is beyond gross negligence. But Keith takes it up a notch: he shows Ashley the video taken of her smashing her laptop. And judging by the editing options above the video, it was the cops that uploaded the video in the first place. It’s gotten more than five million views since yesterday. WOW. Wait, how exactly did the filmer film that video in that short amount of time? It takes five to ten seconds to get your phone out of your pocket, another five to get the camera app up, and another five to switch to video mode and hit record. Ashley smashing her laptop would have been over by then.
In the car after leaving the police station, Ashley and Proxy mention that all the videos of Smiley have somehow been erased from the Entirnit. How? I don’t know!
Ashley somehow shapes up and is super happy when she goes to her psychiatric evaluation. Ashley’s wearing a top that shows that her breasts sag more than those of an old lady.
At home, Ashley has Binder over, having forgotten about how weird he was the other night. Binder gives Ashley his old laptop. It is “fully equipped” with a firewall, a 128-bit encryption and a 256-bit key. Oooooooookay. And then Ashley and Binder start making out, Ashley addressing Binder as “dungeon master” and Binder addressing Ashley as “princess”. Eww. One of the worst romances I’ve ever seen, and one that had advanced from acquaintances to borderline BDSM sex in four scenes. Is Ashley a closet freak? Just as making with the sexies enters their minds, Proxy comes in and tells the two that she’s going to her parents’ house for the weekend. Binder leaves. Proxy mentions Ashley addressing Binder as “dungeon master”, and mentions that she has a pair of handcuffs in her underwear drawer if she needs them. Eww.
That night, Proxy video chats with Ashley, who says that she can’t find Zane. At her parents’ place? Duh. Oh, so Proxy and Zane were going to blueball each other on video chat. Ashley suggests Smiley is responsible. Proxy offers to call the cops, but Ashley says that she’ll go over to Zane’s place herself. Because that’s smart. She goes over to Zane’s place. She finds an inexplicably placed flashlight and looks for Zane. But she finds “I did it for the lulz :)” written in blood on the wall. It’s as silly as it sounds. If you can take that seriously in the slightest, please check yourself in to the nearest insane asylum. She even finds Zane’s corpse and his gun. Smiley appears on Zane’s computer and waves to Ashley. She grabs the gun and runs off. She calls the cops, but it’s Keith David! And the call inexplicably disconnects!
KEITH: F-cking crackpots.
ME: Tell me about it.
Ashley gets back home. Proxy is still video chatting, and she tells Ashley to call 911. But Ashley refuses, telling Proxy to summon Smiley so she can kill him. And Proxy does so! Wow. Someone comes up to the door and opens it. Ashley fires off a shot and hits the person in the chest. She investigates and finds out that she accidentally shot Binder! Mmm, what’d you saaaayyy, mmm, that you only meant wellll, well of course you diiid… Ha! And Shane Dawson’s acting is terrible. I love how he’s not even trying to act like he’s struggling to breathe but is choking on blood, and none of it comes anywhere near convincing. Ha. I’m glad he’s dead. Ashley tries to comfort him, but Smiley appears and slices his throat! She runs up to her room and points the gun at the door. But Smiley’s already there! She tries to shoot him, but it turns out that the bullet that killed Binder was the only bullet in the gun! Why didn’t Ashley make sure it was loaded? Her bedroom door bursts in, revealing multiple Smileys! Oh no! Wait, what? She says “eff that noise” and jumps out her window! CGI glass flies everywhere without slicing Ashley up!! She slow-mo-falls to the ground and … dies? Uh, you jumped from a second story window. It’s easily possible to survive that! But all the blood says no. It’s so silly! Insert brief pretentious sequence of Clayton in his classroom talking about why humans commit evil acts.
Cut back to the night. The Smileys laugh over what happened to Ashley. One even says that he’s going to take a picture of himself with the corpse and post it on Instagram. Murder! Yay! The Smileys unmask to reveal themselves as Zane and his goons, and even the babysitter. It turns out that it was all a massive prank that even Proxy and Binder (who is alive somehow despite getting shot and his throat cut) were in on because they’re all disgusting crapheads. Yes – it was all a setup to get her to die. WHAT? Gee, I wonder if that’s going to go over well without negative consequence. Wait: the babysitter wandered around scared in the opening and heard about the urban legend from the girl she was babysitting. By the way, this little girl even posted a video about how she hadn’t heard from her babysitter since that night, meaning that these stupid pranksters abandoned not only their jobs, but their lives for this effing prank. They’re all ridiculous shartheads with the most amount of time for a prank ever, but to go out of their way to disappear off the map just in case someone might say something about it is beyond astounding. What about the whole HideandGoChat thing? It’s random who you talk to. There is no way that these stupid people could have effectively made this a part of the prank because they could never have known just what people would have been chosen to be subjected to the summoning of Smiley! Ashley even chose the person she killed and these moronic pranksters had no way of knowing who to “kill”! They even had no idea when exactly she would even be on HideandGoChat when she was searching for Smiley! That means that one of the pranksters had to be sitting there for days just in case Ashley might randomly get on HideandGoChat! And the fact that she did is even nonsensical! If the YouTube-video-uploading police were actually doing their jobs, the pranksters would all be getting arrested by now! Their stupid, ungodly convenient plan had to count on not only ungodly convenient circumstances, but they had to count on them happening in a nonsensical way, and somehow be able to predict Ashley’s every action, especially Binder’s “death”! He was rigged with a fake blood squib because the gun at Zane’s was loaded with a blank? What if Ashley hadn’t taken the gun? What if Ashley had gotten her hands on a real gun? What if she had used a knife? What if she had just let Binder walk right in? It would have been all that effing effort for nothing! What was their point? What were they even trying to do in the first place? What was their motivation? In what world would this prank go off without a hitch in? IT DOESN’T MAKE ANY SENSE! And the group is all happy and excited about having just caused a chick to kill herself. Wow. Murder! Yay!
And they call it – I kid you not – a win for Anonymous. Wait, WHAT? Because that’s totally what Anonymous does. Zane even says that Anonymous might not condone their actions, but Binder responds with
BINDER: F-ck those guys. They don’t get to say who’s Anonymous and who’s not. The troll army? They don’t have any command or control. They say we’re off message? No. F-ck them. They’re off message.
Oh, so they aren’t Anonymous, but they’re going to say they are for BS reasons? Because Anonymous would totally come up with a convoluted plan to prank a random chick into killing herself.
BINDER: Because there’s only one reason to troll. … For the lulz.
ALL: For the lulz!
It’s a battle cry. Wow.
Binder further explains the plan to the audience: because they pulled off this ungodly elaborate and unwieldy prank, they’ve immortalized Smiley as not just an urban legend, but similar to the Egyptian pyramids or the works of Shakespeare. Smiley’s the next “Chocolate Rain” (I’m not sure Tay Zonday’s a fan of referencing his video in a bottom-of-the-barrel horror movie.). Smiley will inspire a legion of copycats. He will be anyone, anywhere, at anytime. The first viral serial killer. He’ll be really popular this Halloween (needless to say, he wasn’t. Smiley was barely noticed when it came out).
The pranksters leave, and Zane video chats with Proxy, explaining that he has a boner right now. Huh. Proxy starts questioning why they did this prank to begin with. For the lulz? That’d be a great question to ask before you pull off this prank that you will undoubtedly end up in prison for. She asks if they’re bad people. Well, after devoting all this time to screwing with Ashley until she jumped out a window to her death, yes, you are a bad person. A really, really, really effing bad person. Go kill yourself.
Zane types in “I did it for the lulz” three times as a joke. But the real Smiley appears behind Proxy and kills her. Take notice, this is the real Smiley. I love how Zane covers his mouth in shock when the camera is on him, but still finds the situation funny when the camera is on the computer. Smiley waves to Zane and shuts the laptop. I didn’t know it was possible to drop the bar even lower than it already has been with a desperate, foolish double twist. And for those who are wondering: post-plot-twist, Smiley’s total body count is one. Ashley doesn’t count – she killed herself. For wanting to be the next slasher villain, Smiley (or the Smiley killers) is a pathetic villain.
Credits. And in a two-second after-credits sequence, Ashley wakes up, still alive. Ooooooooookay?
This is one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen. There’s a reason Michael Gallagher never made it past YouTube. Making the movie basically a collaboration of YouTubers that I’m not even subscribed to was a terrible idea. YouTube sketch videos are one thing, but movies are another. Thankfully, Smiley was barely noticed upon release. Though its viral YouTube trailer was viewed tens of millions of times, this was not reflected in its sales. I can’t even find out what its total box office intake was compared to its budget. I can’t even find what its budget was. My guess: the budget was a few hundred thousand bucks, a million at the most, with another few hundred thousand bucks spent on its viral marketing campaign. And it couldn’t even break even.
The movie started out with a mishmash of elements from Candyman and The Ring, and finished off, unfinished, with no loose ends wrapped up.
I’ve ripped plenty of movies apart for relying solely on cheap jumpscares rather than actual fear, so I’m not going to go into too much detail. But in the case of movies like The Haunting in Connecticut, which has plenty of cheap jumpscares, I can look past them if the movie still has a good story, likable characters, and still manages to elicit that sense of fear despite the jumpscares. However, in the case of Smiley, not only is the story nonsensical and the characters unlikable, but any sense of fear is replaced by anticipation of the next jumpscare, all of which feel like getting jabbed with a stun gun.
I hated the poorly handled subplot of Ashley being mentally unstable, and that her runins with Smiley might just be her going crazy. It’s completely uninteresting, pointless, forced, and stupid. Here’s a few good horror movies that involve one or more characters going insane in a good way: Eraserhead. The Haunting. Repulsion. Last Shift. Oculus. The Babadook. Grave Encounters. The VVitch. Goodnight Mommy. Even non-horror movies handle mental instability well: Perfect Blue. Requiem for a Dream. A Scanner Darkly. Take Shelter.
The story itself is poor, even by YouTube sketch video standards. It’s nothing more than yet another teen horror flick that has flooded the market post-Scream. It’s an uninteresting, nonsensical script with forced tension shoehorned in at awkward moments, obvious twists, copious amounts of talk about chat rooms, hackers, and Occam’s Razor, and a sequel bait ending. There are no character arcs; the characters do not evolve. Ashley remains emotionally uneven and unstable. Proxy remains effervescent and annoying. Smiley, who gets so little screen time, is a blatant ripoff of Candyman. Though cyberspace is a spawning ground for depression and manic nihilism, the reason that Smiley is the manifestation of that and executes that attitude in such a silly, gimmicky way is never explained. The rest of the characters just sort of happen. The acting is worthless. The gore effects are awful. The characters’ actions were unrealistic. It wanted so desperately to be trendy. The dialogue is only negligibly better than Ashley saying, “I think I’m high on your marijuana”. Nothing in this movie stands the test of time when it was already ungodly dated well before it even came out. It wants to be a slasher, but it’s way too lightweight; the body count is minimal, and the scary sequences are few, far between, and ineptly handled. Most importantly, it wasn’t just not scary, but it was effing boring.
A horror movie should be made out of inspiration and a love of the genre, not out of a desperate, greedy attempt to capitalize on Internet memes. What Smiley has shown is that moronic YouTubers have no grasp on what horror is, and have a serious lack of knowledge of how to movie.
You know what’s scarier than Smiley coming to get you?
Your wife/girlfriend or daughter discovering your porn addiction through your search engine history.
Final verdict: 0 out of 5 stars.