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Smile (4K UHD Blu-ray Review)

One of 2022’s biggest box office success stories has come in the form of the original horror film, Smile. Paramount’s little horror flick that came from a short film has generated over $200 million and was able to cross $100 million stateside. As of writing, the film is still in the Top 13 grossing films of the Thanksgiving weekend. Quite an impressive little run for this movie, considering it has been on Paramount+ for a few weeks. The well reviewed film arrives on 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray on December 13th and will come with a host of extras including a commentary, the original short film, deleted scenes and more. Order yourself a copy of one of the year’s most successful horror films by clicking on the paid Amazon Associates link that follows the review at the bottom of the page.

Film

After witnessing a bizarre, traumatic incident involving a patient, Dr. Rose Cotter (Sosie Bacon) starts experiencing frightening occurrences that she can’t explain. As an overwhelming terror begins taking over her life, Rose must confront her troubling past in order to survive and escape her horrifying new reality.

Smile valiantly tries at crafting some nice original horror, but altogether features nice moments but a sort of overlong an retreaded horror plot. The film definitely is reminiscent of The Ring with flourishes of details from the Final Destination series. Sure, I’m a proponent of “rip off, don’t remake”, but this one sort of falls short of placing its own stamp  on things as its depth finds itself lacking a little. It certainly lets you know its about mental health, but the layering and message delivered doesn’t really doesn’t give you any resolved or thesis as to why its about that or what it ultimately means.

On the technical side of things, Smile is far from lazy, but I’m not sure the film understands why they are doing the things that they are doing. Much of the camera work and lighting pulls from some obvious influences. However, I’m not sure how it works in the service of this particular film. A lot of it feels like “it looked cool in _____ movie, so lets do that” and doesn’t quite god with one another. Admittedly a lot of it looks cool but some of it feels a bit choppy in terms of a fluid feeling film visually.

At almost two hours in length, Smile is a pretty lengthy horror mystery. And it does feel that stretched runtime. There are a lot of scenes in the film of overexplaining or duplicate explaining. There will be a scene that pretty much gets the point across, but will have a scene directly following that spells out what you just figured out just to make sure. In a sense, it sort of feels like they think the audience isn’t that smart, but the film doesn’t feel like one that feels like its self righteous or super smarter than anyone either.

For the older crowd that’s had their fill with horror movies, Smile provides some pedestrian fun and thrills with some cool sound designs and neat sequences to look at. This probably plays boffo for the casual and newer horror fans, I’m very excited about that. As mentioned earlier, its not that the film isn’t without ambition and isn’t trying, somewhere in the scripting its jut a bit overlong and overdone.

Video

Disclaimer: Screen captures used in the review are provided courtesy of Paramount Home Entertainment and are  not from the 4K UHD Blu-ray disc.

Encoding: HEVC / H.265

Resolution: 4K (2160p)

Aspect Ratio: 2.00:1

Layers: BD-66

Clarity/Detail: Smile arrives on 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray a native 4K title. The transfer features a lot of fine details and darker, shadowy image. Colors are well saturation in the crisp and sharper frame. Fine details certainly pick up with ease. The image looks plenty spooky and that speaks well for it.

Depth:  Depth of field is pretty strong and really gives a nice pushback and 3 dimensional feel with camera movements looking through doorways and down halls and the like. Motion is filmic and smooth with no issues result from rapid action causing a distortion.

Black Levels: Black levels are deep and natural and really paint a pretty picture here as this is a pretty dark and shadowy film. Even in the more lit scenes, there’s plenty of shadow present and a sort of darkness felt. No crushing witnessed.

Color Reproduction: Colors are pretty natural and really come out with some boldness and a little pop at times thanks to the contrast at play. Displays, lights, fire and such really glow nicely in the HDR.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are natural and consistent from start to finish. Freckles, moles, scars, dried blood, blemishes, lip texture, sleepy bags under eyes and all sorts of texture and details are easily discernible.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean.

Audio

Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos, English Audio Description, German 5.1 Dolby Digital, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, French (Canadian) 5.1 Dolby Digital, Italian 5.1 Dolby Digital, Japanese 5.1 Dolby Digital

Subtitles: English, English SDH, German, Spanish (Latin American), French, French (Canadian), Italian, Japanese, Dutch, Turkish

Dynamics: Smile features a really rad Atmos track. This one is a full on 360 degree fun house that is both accurate and playful for the jump scares and such. Its loud, with good layering and depth. One of the better Atmos tracks you’ll find, and it honestly adds to the experience of the film.

Height: From above, you get some neat whisper effects, bumps, jump scares, debris and more to make a more encompassing experience.

Low Frequency Extension: This one rocks the room with pretty awesome thumps and bumps. There are moments where it vibrates with some terrific pressure.

Surround Sound Presentation: Smile really relishes and giggles around the room as it is a playful mixture that will surprise at times, accurately make the onscreen action interactive and give plenty of power to the rolling sound as it travels around the room.

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are clear and crisp and can really radiate around with big spikes in volume and distortions when it needs to. Also, some clever whispers are a highlight of the mix.

Extras

Smile comes with a redeemable digital code.

Audio Commentary

  • By Director Parker Finn

Something’s Wrong with Rose: Making SMILE (HD, 29:07) – This is a pretty well put together doc that chronicles the film’s pick up at SXSW through the production of it with some good depth, behind the scenes footage and interviews from the cast and crew that provide some decent insight into the film’s creation.

Flies on the Wall: Inside the Score (HD, 8:50) – You pretty much literally are a fly on the wall as you watch videos of the score being crafted in various, unexpected and non-traditional ways.

Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary by Director Parker Finn (HD, 11:40)

Laura Hasn’t Slept (HD, 11:19) – The original short film that inspired SMILE with introduction by director Parker Finn

Summary

While I’m happy for its success, Smile didn’t quite hit right for me. It does hit right on home video. The video transfer is beautiful and the Atmos track is awesome and effective. Paramount has a nice roster of extras included to make this one of the most complete packages for a newer movie coming out on video this year.

This is a paid Amazon Associates link

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Brandon is the host, producer, writer and editor of The Brandon Peters Show (thebrandonpetersshow.com) on the Creative Zombie Studios Network. At Why So Blu he is a Writer/Reviewer. Brandon is a lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash. You can also find older essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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