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Promo poster for "Smile" | Source: Paramount Pictures
Promo poster for "Smile" | Source: Paramount Pictures

Is 'Smile' Based on a True Story? All We Know about Inspirations behind the Psychological Horror

Milla Sigaba
Sep 14, 2023
01:15 A.M.

If you have ever wondered if "Smile" is a true story, or at least based on one, its director and writer, Parker Finn, has opened up about his supernatural psychological horror film, the other films that inspired it, and its underlying message.

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In 2022, Parker Finn made his directorial debut on "Smile," an unnerving horror that takes a psychological toll on its viewers and throws them into the paranormal world.

From its impressive and authentic performances from the cast to its themes of dealing with past trauma and psychological distress, Parker Finn's film — based on one of his short stories — has left many viewers wondering: Is "Smile" based on a true story?

What Is 'Smile' About?

"Smile" follows the story of Dr. Rose Cotter, played by Sosie Bacon, a psychiatrist whose career turns sinister when one of her patients kills herself before Dr. Cotter. Before her death, the patient screams, and her face turns upwards into a disturbing smile.

Stunned by the gruesome scene, Bacon's character's world is turned upside down as everyone is wearing the same creepy smile everywhere she looks. After encountering another patient with the same smile in her psychiatric facility, Dr. Cotter tries to wake the man from a seemingly psychological trance.

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Instead, he begins to tell Dr. Cotter she will die and attacks her. Determined to understand what is happening, Bacon's character realizes she must overcome a traumatic experience to escape her petrifying reality.

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Is 'Smile' Based on a True Story?

While "Smile" is not based on a true story, during an interview, Finn revealed that it was inspired by his 2020 short film "Laura Hasn't Slept." The writer and director added that while the plot for "Smile" poured out of him, he also had other films such as "Safe," "Cure," and "Rosemary's Baby" on his mind.

According to reports, Finn elaborated that "Smile" was influenced by his desire to move away from most horrors' traditional jumpscare. Instead, he wanted to explore the landscape of the mind of an average person.

The writer and director wanted to tackle the innate human phenomenon of masking your feelings and past while dealing with anxieties, stress, and fears. The premise of "Smile" — co-starring Kal Penn and Judy Reyes — is looking at what it is like when you feel like your mind has turned against you.

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The Ending of 'Smile' Explained

Watching her patient die takes a toll on Dr. Cotter's life and relationships, leading her to search for answers. With the help of a few characters, Bacon's character learns that the smile is a curse placed on people with trauma.

For the curse to be passed on, the person under the spell has to kill themselves in front of someone else. After watching her patient's death, the curse was passed on to Dr. Cotter, who had to confront the entity responsible for all this horror.

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To do so, Dr. Cotter locks herself in her childhood home, where her past trauma occurred. After seemingly defeating the entity, the audience watches in shock as the movie's ending sees Dr. Cotter kill herself in front of another character, passing on the curse and continuing the horror.

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text "help" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741, or go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org.

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news.AmoMama.com does not support or promote any kind of violence, self-harm, or abusive behavior. We raise awareness about these issues to help potential victims seek professional counseling and prevent anyone from getting hurt. news.AmoMama.com speaks out against the above mentioned and news.AmoMama.com advocates for a healthy discussion about the instances of violence, abuse, sexual misconduct, animal cruelty, abuse etc. that benefits the victims. We also encourage everyone to report any crime incident they witness as soon as possible.

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The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. Other international suicide helplines can be found at befrienders.org.

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