Opening in theatres this Friday from director/writer Michael J. Gallager and Level 10 Films and distributed by AMC theatres is the scary tale of SMILEY.
This film tells the story of young college student Ashley (Caitlin Gerard), returning to school after a nervous breakdown she moves in with Proxie (Melanie Papalia). Immediately the two click and off to a college party they go. Ashley is a little shy but Proxie gets her immediately into the groove.
During the party she meets Zane (Andrew James Allen), a college partier who eagerly brings Ashley into the fold. While at the party she is introduced to an online video chat as the viewer scrolls through choices of people to meet. That is also were Zane and Proxie introduce her to Smiley.
Smiley is an urban legend that says while in the video chat if you type ‘I did it for the lulz’, Smiley will appear and kill who ever receives the message. Convinced it isn’t real Ashley and Proxie go about their partying.
Until the next day they decide in order to find out if it’s true they would do an experiment. After picking someone they type in the words that bring Smiley out and they see the murder before their very eyes.
Recruiting Zane to help, the three college students begin planning how to make all of it stop. Ashley meets Binder (Shane Dawson) who knows about Smiley and wants to make it all stop as well. But one by one those who participated in the experiment begin to go missing. Ashley turns to the police but gets not help.
Ashley knows she’s on her own and must confront Smiley if this is all going to end.
FINAL WORD: Gerard is fine as Ashley. There are moments where she gets a little pushing-the-hair-Twilighty-over-acting on screen but it’s to be expected when one sees a murder on their computer screen I suppose.
Papalia as Proxie is just outrageous from beginning to end. Her laid back style and college partying attitude was perfect for the role. Allen as Zane is nothing short of an evil little bugger who drove me insane to the point of wanting to smack him – that’s a good thing here!
The clear winner here is Dawson as Binder. He has the shy, Beebs haircut, wish-I-had-a-girl act down pat! Helping Ashley and proudly calling himself a nerd are only some of the awesome things Dawson does in this role to make the film pretty darn good.
Director Gallager is himself a San Diego native and a graduate of Torrey Pines High School. Making short films since the age of nine, Gallager took time during the high school summers to attend The New York Film Academy. Making the Film Festival rounds he has chalked up a few wins with his piece THE FLATTEST. Gallager is currently studying at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.
Other cast include: Roger Bart as Professor Clayton, Keith David as Diamond, Toby Turner as Mark, Liza Weil as Dr. Jenkins, Jana Winternitz as Maria, Nikki Limo as Stacy, Richard Ryan as Kells, Jason Horton as Flasher, Patrick O’Sullivan as Cooper, Elizabeth Greer as Mom and Michael Traynor as Smiley.
TUBS OF POPCORN: I give SMILEY three and a half tubs of popcorn out of five. Although the film seems to be following the general formula of teen/young adult horror films it has some nice twists and turns with it. It is not hard to follow at all which is probably why the ending is so cool. I think audiences are really going to embrace Smiley, which is a very odd thought, and give it some hometown love showing at the AMC theatres!
In the end – the new face of fear is all about the lulz!
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By JERI JACQUIN | Movie Maven