SMILEY * USA 2012 90 mins
A pre-release hit on the internet thanks to a decent trailer and an admittedly cool mask for its eponymous killer, SMILEY seems doomed from the start thanks to two shitty, lazy, LOUD “Oh it’s only you!” scares in the first five minutes. In this sequence, a babysitter with a very nice ass is told by her charge of the “Smiley” legend : talking on an IM chat app that’s equivalent to Skype but with strangers rather than friends, someone can type “I did it for the lulz” (lulz = laughs, apparently) three times to summon Smiley, who then appears behind the recipient chatter to do his stabbing thing. The main story becomes a kind of twisted wish-fulfilment fantasy as the teen protagonists deliberately do the Smiley calling card to net perverts in order to get the satisfaction of watching them “killed”. With its interchangeably pretty girls, slick look and brief kills SMILEY feels like an unused URBAN LEGEND sequel script that someone secretly shot in 1998 and sat on the shelf until 2012. Even for the post-SCREAM slasher genre, there is a ridiculous amount of irritating fake-outs and an abundance of unappealing characters: an idiot who describes himself as “king of the internet assholes” takes the cake, though it’s a close call in a film full of punchable wankers. The double twist ending, with its revelation of “the first viral serial killer” is naff enough to seal this film’s doom as a turkey that strains hard to be current but feels embarrassingly dated.
Review by Steven West