The Gratuitous B-Movie Column 10.7.13 Issue #276: Smiley (2012)
Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz on 10.07.2013
The 6th Annual October Slasher Movie Celebration continues with a review of the 2012 flick Smiley, plus three TV Quick Hits, two new batches of Things to Watch Out For This Week, two B-Movie Babes are named, a new Douchebag of the Week is crowned, and more. Check it out.
The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Issue #276: Smiley (2012)
The 6th Annual The Gratuitous B-Movie Column October Slasher Movie Celebration: Week 2
Hello, everyone, and welcome once again to the internets movie review column that has never been chased around the southwest by an evil balloon, The Gratuitous B-Movie Column, and I am your host Bryan Kristopowitz. In this issue, issue number two hundred and seventy-six, The 6th Annual The Gratuitous B-Movie Column October Slasher Movie Celebration continues with a look at 2012's Smiley, directed by Michael J. Gallagher.
Smiley is one of those slasher movies that has all of the potential to be a modern classic of the genre, but because of a shoddy, ridiculous ending, the movie ends up being, at best, pretty good. With a killer as cool looking as Smiley, that's just unacceptable.
The movie stars Caitlin Gerard as Ashley, a somewhat naive college freshman who wants to get good grades and experience everything that college has to offer. Living off campus with the hip and edgy Proxy (Melanie Papalia), Ashley goes to parties and tries to meet people, but she doesn't seem to connect with anyone in that "young person experiencing college life for the first time" way that we've seen a million times in college movies. While in the midst of the usual college hooha, Ashley finds out about "Smiley," the internets urban legend involving anonymous video chat and the phrase "I did it for the lulz" three times. Basically, if you engage in anonymous video chat and type in "I did it for the lulz" three times, Smiley is supposed to appear and murder the person you're talking to. It sounds like bullshit, of course, but then what if it's real? In a fit of curiosity, Ashley decides to try out the Smiley legend, just to see if it's real. Proxy joins in on the fun, which quickly turns into the two female college students witnessing a bloody murder. Smiley is real. Or is he?
Ashley, being a good girl (she talks to her father all of the time), wants to tell the police about what she saw. Proxy wants to keep the whole thing quiet and act like nothing happened. Ashley eventually agrees to Proxy's wishes and tries to go on with her life. It doesn't take long, though, for guilt to set in and for Ashley to start experiencing weird dreams. Smiley is real and he's coming after her. Smiley wants to kill her because she's done something evil, something wrong. She goes to see a campus doctor (Dr. Jenkins, played by Liza Weil), who basically tells her to calm down and take it easy (she gives Ashley pills to help her sleep. And Ashley is familiar with pills, as she reveals to the doctor that she's bi-polar and has taken lithium in the past). It's just the stress of college getting to you. Just calm down and give it time.
So then some stuff happens, some of Ashley's fellow students start dying, and suddenly the question of the reality of Smiley seems to be moot. Who the heck is killing all of these people? I'm not going to divulge any more of the plot, as I want everyone to experience what I experienced after watching the movie. I mean, why provide that final shock moment when the movie doesn't need it? Just because every other movie has done it doesn't mean you need to do it, too.
Director Gallagher, who also co-wrote the screenplay with Glasgow Phillips, knows how to create mood and suspense, as the opening sequence involving the uber hot babysitter Stacy played by Nikki Limo shows brilliantly. He also creates a nice balance between the "real" world and Ashley's nightmare world. And when Smiley shows up you know things are going to get very, very ugly. When there's an instant sense of dread when your slasher movie killer shows up you know you're on to something. The flick's few moments of gore are also top notch stuff. The scene where Smiley vomits blood is gross and nasty and will make you gag.
So why wimp out with a stupid goddamn ending? Why make things confusing? You want to make a sequel? You can't make a sequel with what I'll call the "first" ending? And what the hell is the deal with that last shot after the credits?
At least the performances are all top notch. Caitlin Gerard is one of the best slasher movie heroines in recent memory. She has a warmness and a charisma that makes her come off as a natural for this kind of movie. Melanie Papalia does a superb job as Proxy, Ashley's roommate and college best friend. She's funny and kind of snarky, which is what you want with a best friend (she's also very, very nice to look at). Shane Dawson does a good job as the kind of goofy Binder, the guy who has a crush on Ashley (Ashley likes him, too). And Andrew James Allen gives one of the best douchebag performances you're likely to see in any movie of the last five years. You really want to see him punched in the face.
The great Roger Bart shows up as Professor Clayton, who teaches Introduction to Reason and Ethics, the class that every student must take his or her freshman year. Bart manages to go back and forth between serious, committed educator and thinker and disinterested professional just collecting a paycheck with supreme ease, and there are moments where you get creeped out by what he's telling his class and, eventually, Ashley (Ashley asks Professor Clayton for advice). I wouldn't be surprised if he shows up in a Smiley sequel.
And then there's the legendary Keith David as Diamond, the cop that Ashley eventually contacts about Smiley. I'm going to assume that David was on set for like a day because he's only in like three scenes, but those scenes are just brimming with energy (the kind of energy you always get from Keith David, regardless of the movie). I wouldn't be surprised if he shows up in a Smiley sequel, too.
Smiley, despite its stupid goddamn ending, is worth checking out. I just hope that, if and when there is a Smiley Part 2, the movie either explains the point of the ending of part 1, or decides to move forward with the ending it should have stuck with from the beginning.
See Smiley. See it, see it, see it. And then get as pissed off as I am.
So what do we have here?
Dead bodies: Around 5.
Doobage: A nifty opening jump scare, multiple video chats, a weird mask, a creepy father, hot thighs, drug talk, an awkward first pop experience, talk of a potential 3-way, bullying, beer can throwing, a drunken college hijinks montage, attempted lesbianism, notebook drawings, talk of the scientific method, multiple college parties, a nightmare, a gun, internet research, a throat slitting montage, laptop smashing, multiple killers, a flashdrive, a very dead body, a computer takeover, more throat slitting, a nifty chase sequence, window jumping, and a stupid goddamn ending.
Kim Richards?: None.
Gratuitous: A hot female babysitter, video chat, an internets urban legend, "I did it for the lulz" three times, an awkward first pot experience, Roger Bart, Roger Bart as a college professor, attempted lesbianism, multiple nightmares, a "just like Freddy Krueger" line, a gun, discussion of Occam's Razor, discussion of the anthropic principle, sleeping pills, laptop smashing, Keith David, Keith David playing a cop, a flash drive, knife through the eye, and a stupid goddamn ending.
Best lines: "Hey, what's up super hot ladies?," "Oh, so you enjoy the strange?," "So, is God strange or retarded? Let's take acid and discuss," "Hey, is this the anonymous party?," "Ha1 Penis!," "What do you do if you test your hypothesis and it's wrong?," "I think Smiley is only real when people make him real," "Are you fucking with me? You typed it and you made it happen," "College is for retards! I am a security professional!," "I think I'm going to go get my prescription," "Smiley's real? What? How do you know?," "So you think humans are just evil?," "We're rats on a ship, ants on an ice cream cone," "What the fuck are you looking at? Huh?," "Oh, I think you broke my nose!," "Hello? I'd like to report a murder?," "Bye, dungeon master!," "Fucking crackpots," and "I kind of have a boner. Is that weird?"
Next week:Gingerdead Man 2: The Passion of the Crust
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Things to Watch Out For This Week: Part 1
- The Purge: This was one of the surprises of the 2013 summer movie season, as it came out of nowhere to open at number one at the box office. It also pissed off a bunch of right wing loonbags, which is always cool to see. I reviewed the flick here. I can't wait to see it again.
- Curse of Chucky: This is the sixth movie in the Child's Play/"Chucky" franchise, and it looks like it's a direct sequel to part five as opposed to a full on reboot. This is also the first Chucky movie to not get a major theatrical release, which seems like a big mistake to me (Chucky belongs on the big screen). I guess we should all be happy, though, since we're getting another Chucky movie.
- Zombie Hunter: A low budget zombie action flick featuring Danny Trejo as a killer priest? Sounds and looks badass. We can all check this out and then go see the second Machete, Machete Kills. How awesome is that?
- Shiver: The great Danielle Harris and Casper Van Dien are in this low budget horror flick that sort of looks and feels like a slasher type movie based on the trailer. I believe this is the first time Harris and Van Dien have appeared in the same movie. The DVD cover is pretty cool, with the head floating in the jar and all that.
- The Hangover Part III: I did a mini-review of this flick here. This movie is darker and weirder than the first two Hangover flicks, and I bet that's what essentially killed its box office appeal. I liked it for the most part, but I have issues with it. I do feel, though, that the movie will be one of those movies that will eventually find a wider audience later on. I really feel as though it has that potential.
The Gratuitous B-Movie Column B-Movie Theme of the Week
TV Quick Hits
- Trophy Wife thoughts: This new ABC sitcom is, at least at the moment, one of the rare sitcoms with a big cast that actually works right at the beginning. It usually takes a few seasons for a sitcom cast to properly grow, but I'm guessing that because of the instant success of Modern Family more and more new sitcoms are going to try to come out of the gate with a big cast. That's the way it looks to me, anyway.
Malin Akerman does a great job as the show lead. She's warm and funny, and while she's sexy she isn't too sexy if you know what I mean (she sort of looks like a real person). Bradley Whitford, who can't seem to catch a break TV show wise since the end of The West Wing, is hilarious as Akerman's husband. The real standout, if you look at what professional TV critics, is Albert Tsai as Bert, the adopted son of Whitford's second ex-wife, but I think the real scene stealer so far has been Marcia Gay Harden as Whitford's first ex-wife. Harden's Dr. Diane Buckley is a cold, unfeeling doctor who runs her family like a bastard. The way her kids are terrified of her is something that could be mined for more laughs as the show progresses (the "stained couch" bit from last week, while done a million times on other shows, was funny as hell).
Michaela Watkins, Whitford's second ex-wife, would seem to be a work in progress character. She's funny as a weird hippy and all, but I have a hard time believing that Whitford's Pete character would marry her. They don't seem compatible in any way. Watkins is a good actor, though, so I'm sure she'll figure out how to make the Jackie character work.
Trophy Wife could have a long life on TV if it doesn't get throttled in the ratings or moved around the schedule. The characters on the show are appealing enough to make me want to keep watching.
- Ironside thoughts: Blair Underwood is a great actor who just can't catch a break when it comes to TV shows, and it looks like his new NBC crime drama Ironside is yet another entry on his list of terrible goddamn shows. While I am usually hesitant to condemn a drama only after one episode I can't help myself here. This TV remake is a dud.
Why is Underwood's wheelchair bound cop Robert Ironside such an asshole? Is it because he's in a wheelchair? Or is it just the way he's always been, even before the shooting that put him in the wheelchair? Am I supposed to be happy that Ironside hasn't changed despite his handicap? I'd also like to know why it's necessary to saddle Underwood's Ironside character with a team or pretty looking bores who offer nothing of value to anything. Why can't the show be about Underwood's Ironside and maybe one other guy working cases and figuring shit out on their own?
I'm also curious as to why the show seems to think it needs to move at such a breakneck pace when nothing all that important seems to be happening. And is it really necessary to have several flashbacks featuring Ironside when he could walk? Am I the only one who didn't care about any of that shit while watching the first episode?
I'll give this show at least two more episodes before I say "fuck it" and watch something else on Wednesday nights. I want Underwood to have a worthwhile show. I think he's paid his dues.
- The Millers thoughts: I'm happy to say that, despite some of the worst commercials in "new this Fall" history and the presence of Will Arnett, the new CBS sitcom The Millers isn't a total disaster. It isn't all that great, but it isn't the unwatchable mess I thought it was going to be. It's obvious to me that the stars of the show are Margo Martindale and Beau Bridges, the old married couple that gets a divorce that sets the show's overall plot into motion. Bridges is a little better than Martindale at the sitcom back and forth, but they have a real antagonistic chemistry that could lead to some epic future sitcom arguments. If the show was simply about them going at one another every week I'd be happy.
Arnett, who looks both bored and out of his element as the hapless son of Bridges and Martindale, has no business being the star of the show. His character's job, as a local news reporter, is lame as hell, and he just doesn't have the same kind of energy as Bridges and Martindale. If Bridges and Martindale have to uproot themselves I would much rather see them live with their daughter played by Jayma Mays. At least Mays and her TV husband Nelson Franklin, of the unjustly cancelled Traffic Light, are funny themselves. They could actually work with Bridges and Martindale.
I'll probably keep watching this show until CBS decides to get rid of it. I like it enough at the moment to make it a part of my weekly TV schedule. I just hope, for the sake of the show, that Arnett figures out how to look like he's having a good time, because I really don't want to see him bored every episode. That's a recipe for sitcom disaster.
And, no, the fart jokes were not disgusting or crude or lame. They were actually funny. I wouldn't have the show do them every week or anything like that, but if they're spaced out over the season they could work. They could become the show's calling card.
The Gratuitous B-Movie Column B-Movie Babes of the Week: Melanie Papalia and Caitlin Gerard
Things to Watch Out For This Week: Part 2
- Europa Report: This low budget science fiction flick, which did get a small theatrical release, did get some good reviews, which is odd for low budget science fiction movies (notice I said "science fiction" and not "sci-fi"). Sharlto Copley is in it, so it has that going for it, too. Easily worth a rental.
- After Effect: This low budget action zombie flick, also apparently known as The Removed, looks decent enough. It doesn't look cheesy, and that's always a plus going in. The great Daniel Baldwin is also in this for some reason, so it has that going for it, too. Very rentable.
- Static: The gorgeous Sarah Shahi stars in this low budget horror flick that gives off a kind of slasher movie vibe, but I have a feeling that it isn't exactly a slasher movie, at least in the traditional sense. That mask is pretty cool, though. Who the heck wouldn't want to wear that?
- Adam Chaplin: Violent Avenger: Man, when was the last time we saw a full on revenge horror action flick featuring demons? This looks freaking insane. Has anyone out there seen this? Is it truly as weird and cool as it looks?
- Get Lucky: Yet another low budget British crime movie. It seems like we get a new one of these every few weeks. And that's cool by me. I'm very in favor of them. Anyone out there see this? Is it as good as the trailer suggests?
The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Douchebag of the Week
This week, The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Douchebag of the Week goes to the Republican Party, for whining about how President Obama "refuses to negotiate" over the Affordable Care Act, the debt ceiling, etc. President Obama has shown time and again that he is willing to negotiate and compromise with Congress but he isn't going to do it in the midst of an invented crisis. He's already done that several times, and it's about fucking time that the President finally said "enough of this shit" and refused to give in.
And what the fuck is this "we'll create a funding bill for each government department" shit? I'll tell you what it is: a fucking scam. The Republicans know that the Democrats in the Senate aren't going to go for that kind of thing, so why even bother trying? Because, in their own mind, it makes the Republicans look like reasonable statesmen. And if this is what the House of Representatives wants to do, why didn't it start doing it earlier in the year? Why does the Republican controlled House want to do it now?
Because it's all bullshit. The Republicans shut the government down. They should suffer the political consequences.
And, no, despite what you may believe, the President is not responsible for the incredibly low approval rating of Congress. Congress is responsible for its own approval rating.
What a bunch of fucking shit.
And then there's Douchebag Hall of Famer Bill O'Reilly, for whining about how "the secular left progressive liberal media is making fun" of him for claiming that the "Holy Spirit" inspired him to write a book about killing Jesus. First off, what the hell is the "secular" media? And second, it's a little hard to believe that O'Reilly, who once threatened to fire people at his own company if he "was forced by the government to pay more taxes," was inspired by anything other than making loads of money from the morons that bought his previous Killing... books. In other words, no one is making fun of Bill O'Reilly for being religious (he's a Catholic). The people who are making fun of O'Reilly are making fun of him because he's so full of shit.
Does anyone out there know how to get hired by the "secular" media? Is there a specific cable channel or website I should look out for?
And finally there's Kurt Sutter, creator of the hit FX biker drama Sons of Anarchy, for killing off Donal Logue's Lee Toric last week. Yeah, yeah, I know that Logue's contract with the show was only for 10 episodes and he was made a "series regular" on The Vikings, prohibiting him from going any further with the show, but was that any reason to kill off one of the best badass characters in recent TV history? Fuck no! Sutter should have found a way to keep Logue's Toric alive and around, so he could come back in the event that the Vikings show goes away. I mean, Toric was good enough to have his own spin-off.
So what do we have to look forward to now on Sons of Anarchy? More Irish shit. Hopefully, Toric had buddies in the U.S. Marshal's office that will come to Charming to kick Samcro ass, or maybe Toric had a friend in Special Forces who could come to town and kill off a few biker assholes. Or maybe Bobby and his new Nomad group can do something? Or the Sheriff! Yes, Rockmond Dunbar's Sheriff Roosevelt! Let him kick some ass again!
This is bullshit, man. Marshal Toric would have been an awesome show. It really would have been.
Indycar and NASCAR thoughts
The Indycar Series was back after a month layoff with a double race weekend in Houston, Texas. I missed the first race, held on Saturday in the Reliant Stadium parking lot. Scott Dixon won the race, and Simona De Silvestro finished second, her first career podium finish. I did get to see the race on Sunday. Will Power won the race, with Scott Dixon finishing second and moving into the points lead after Team Penske driver Helio Castroneves (tax cheat) lost two gearboxes, one in each race. The Houston street course layout didn't provide many places to pass, and it seemed as though the only way a driver could make up time was either via pit strategy or on the restarts. I read a piece, either on yahoo or on Racer Magazine's website, where Power, who had raced in Houston when it was a part of the Champ Car schedule, complained about the "new" Houston layout. I remember watching Champ Car in Houston. I don't remember all that much passing to begin with.
The final lap of the second race was scary for both Dario Franchitti, who crashed hard into the wall and catch fence, and the spectators watching the race from that corner, as debris from Franchitti's car shot up into the grandstands. ESPN reported last night that Franchitti suffered a concussion, a fractured spine injury that won't require surgery, and a fractured ankle, and at least 13 spectators needed medical attention. It'll be interesting to see what kind of "safety revolution" this incident will generate, especially since Scott Dixon apparently said that the wreckage looked like the aftermath of Dan Wheldon's fatal crash at Las Vegas. Will drivers and team owners demand an end to street racing? I mean, it's dangerous, isn't it?
And what does this mean for the season's final race at California? Will Franchitti be able to race, or will team owner Chip Ganassi find someone else? Is there anyone else waiting in the wings to drive the #10 car?
The race at California will be in two weeks, on Saturday night October 19th. The race will be shown live on NBC Sports.
It was also made official this past week that Tony Kanaan would be moving to a fourth Chip Ganassi car for 2014, and that Ganassi would be switching to Chevy engines going forward. Ganassi was considered Honda's top team in the series, so with Ganassi going away who the heck becomes the new top Honda team? Sam Schmidt's team? A.J. Foyt's operation? Someone else we don't know about yet?
Over in NASCAR, Kevin Harvick dominated the Sprint Cup race at Kansas, starting from the pole and spanking the field for most of the day. The race was marred by several cautions, most of them for debris and spins coming out of turn 2. There was one caution for a small fire outside of the track that caused a massive smoke cloud to appear on the track, causing a major visibility issue for the drivers driving at full speed. Why were there so many debris cautions? And what the heck was the deal with turn 2? Was it a tire issue? Was it the weather?
Kansas is usually an okay race, but with all of the cautions the race was a bit of a bore. Kyle Busch had a bad day, as did Danica Patrick, who wrecked on the first lap. Kurt Busch had a great day, finishing second, and Jeff Gordon finished third (if he can win a race and keep finishing in the top 5 he could turn into a real championship contender). Juan Pablo Montoya had a good race going until the end, when it seemed like the handling on his car disappeared and he finished out of the top 10. He's only got six races to go to win on an oval. Will he be able to get it done?
I didn't get to see the Nationwide race on Saturday. Matt Kenseth won, and apparently something happened between Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski during the race that had everyone worried about the two drivers during the Cup race. Would Keselowski do something to mess up Busch's chances at advancing in the Chase?
Charlotte is up next for the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series, with Nationwide racing on Friday night and Sprint Cup racing on Saturday night. ESPN will air the Nationwide race, and ABC will air the Cup race.
Well, I think that'll be about it for this issue. B-movies rule, always remember that.
If there's anything you want to see reviewed here in this column, feel free to offer a comment below or send me an e-mail. I'm always on the lookout for new stuff to watch.
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Caitlin Gerard- Ashley Melanie Papalia- Proxy Shane Dawson- Binder Andrew James Allen- Zane Liza Weil- Dr. Jenkins Roger Bart- Professor Clayton Keith David- Diamond Toby Turner- Mark Michael Traynor- Smiley Nikki Limo- Stacy
Directed by Michael J. Gallagher Screenplay by Michael J. Gallagher and Glasgow Phillips, based on a story by Ezra Cooperstein
Distributed by Arc Entertainment
Rated R for violence, terror, language, some sexual references and substance use by teens Runtime- 90 minutes