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DVD Review

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Starring: Caitlin Gerard, Roger Bart and Keith David
Distributor: Signature Entertainment
RRP: £15.99
Certificate: 15
Release Date: 14 October 2013

A teenaged girl, recovering from a breakdown after her mother’s suicide, begins college, sharing a house with a rich girl she has never met before. Almost immediately, she hears rumours of an urban myth about an on-line killer known as Smiley, because of its stitched-up eyes and mouth. She is told it reportedly appears on anonymous web cam sites; flicking through the often weird individuals, if you type in ‘I did it for the luls’ three times, Smiley appears behind the person you are looking at and brutally kills them. She is shown some Internet clips of this happening, and is shocked, but cannot believe it is real. Being lured into the hype, she finally has to put the theory to the test. When she selects a person and types in the lines, the killer appears and does its stuff. Sitting in terror, she suddenly realises Smiley can see her. From that moment on, she experiences a number of situations that convince her she is being stalked by the Internet killer. But is all of this real, or her medicated, delusional mind playing psychological tricks with her...

This is a film which borrows from several sources to create a new and original urban myth for an enlightened twenty-first century audience. It’s a relatively simple idea which works, but nevertheless is somewhat restrictive at the same time. Imagine the internet scenario horror of Fear Dot Com, mix it with an urban myth story like Candyman (instead of speaking his name three times, a phrase is typed three times), sprinkle a liberal dose of psychological characterisation, and you have the formula required here. It’s amusing and more than a little short-sighted just how many movies incorporate a psychologically unbalanced teen to endure the tribulations of an experience in which fantasy and reality is a fine line. Word of the myth itself is spread via the many students who frequent chat sites (or social networking, as it is now referred to by those who want to offer the process more credence), in a similar process utilised by The Ring for the fatal video sequence to be passed on.

The ending is a little disappointing, and the final sequence simply predictable. Having said that, it is a bold attempt to create a new horror icon character to launch another franchise. I can’t see this one going the distance of Michael Myers or Jason Voorhees, but it’s easy to see how at least one sequel might be spawned. Without giving too much away, perhaps there could be a Smiley society. The killer itself does very little in the film, so a sequel would have to reveal some background – some tantalising information - whilst still maintaining the mystery and spontaneity of the character. Otherwise, people are going to tire of Smiley pretty quickly.


Ty Power

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