Director Parker Finn and his actors, led by Sosie Bacon, present the horror film “Smile”. And reveal to us the name of the actor whose smile worries them the most.
Here is a horror movie that will make you want to laugh. First feature film directed by Parker Finnnoticed thanks to the short Laura Hasn’t Slept two years ago, Smile confronts a psychiatrist with a mysterious force, after having witnessed the suicide of one of her patients, a huge smile on her face.
From then on, the slightest grin will become a source of tension, for the heroine embodied by Bacon lookalike (daughter of Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick) as for the spectator, with whom the director likes to play while evoking the question of trauma. And it is accompanied by his actors that he presents the feature film to us.
AlloCiné: What led you to make “Smile” your first feature film as director Parker?
Parker Finn : It all started with a short film, Laura Hasn’t Slept, which I made in 2020. It was really the rough draft of what Smile became. I’ve always been fascinated by what’s going on in our heads, all the accumulated trauma, the guilt, the anxieties that haunt us. And how we manage to hide all this from the rest of the world, as if we were normal. I wanted to see what might happen if your own mind turned against you and you couldn’t trust your senses and instincts anymore. How your life is completely turned upside down.
What did you want to talk about through these horrific elements?
Parker Finn: I was really very lucky to be able to make a feature film that pushes the boundaries of genre film. I like to have an impact on the public and I hope that will be the case here. I think it’s impossible to totally get rid of the things that haunt us, and we can’t wear this mask for a long time. I hope this film will allow people who know people who seem to suffer from trauma to deal with them in a different way. So it’s a film about compassion in a sense.
Bacon lookalike : Smile shows that when we experience childhood trauma, it never leaves us, despite all the therapy work we can do on ourselves. I hope a film like this will allow people who have problems to talk about it and share their suffering so that we understand them better. So that they don’t feel guilty about their condition.
The fear of catching a virus is inevitably found, in a certain way, in the script of Smile
Is there a person who, when they smile, really scares you?
Parker Finn: I think Willem Dafoe has a really scary smile. I’ve never met him but I find his facial expression unique and complex. His whole face can express terror. It is fabulous.
Kyle Gallner : I agree. Willem Dafoe is the quintessential creepy smile master. No one can top Willem Dafoe.
Do you find that our human relationships have changed with the pandemic and the masks? That we smile less than before?
Parker Finn: What’s interesting is that I wrote this film in the midst of a pandemic, when I could only see the eyes of the people I passed on the street or in the stores. It is certain that all this has contributed to accentuating our fear of the other, of the stranger. And the fear of catching a virus and all this is inevitably found, in a certain way, in the script of Smile. I believe a smile can be deceptive, like a living lie. We are sometimes too inclined to think that the smile is the international symbol of kindness and recognition.
The smile is born in us, it is something primitive, instinctive. When you’re a baby, you smile before you even speak. But today, we use our smile as a mask to hide our true emotions, our deep intentions. It’s like a defense and protection mechanism. It was fascinating, for me, to turn the concept of the smile around and make it something threatening and dangerous.
Jessie T Usher : I feel like people express themselves more through their eyes, because that’s how they learned to smile for over two years. I think human relationships are more fragile than ever, especially after two years of isolation. It is difficult, I find, to be normal and fearless around others.
Bacon look-alike: The mask has almost become part of our body during the pandemic. I find myself occasionally surprised to put my hand in front of my face when I speak, as if I miss the mask. It’s really weird. It is certain that human relationships are different, the fear of the other seems more intense than ever. Before the pandemic I had no problem visiting sick people in a hospital or rehabilitation center, but now I don’t. I had to go to the ER the other day and I felt so uncomfortable and scared in that environment. It is as if we had been robbed of the possibility of not being afraid.
Interview by Roxana Bina in Los Angeles on September 25, 2022