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Why Director Parker Finn Didn't Dig Into The Entity's Past In Smile

"Smile" premiered at the height of the spooky season at the end of September 2022. Directed by Parker Finn, the film begins with Rose Cotter (Sosie Bacon) sitting with a patient, Laura (Caitlin Stasey), who is plagued by an unseen entity that Rose assumes to be a hallucination. Rose is forced to watch as Laura brutally takes her own life. As a therapist, Rose understands how the human mind works and also how it can sometimes fail. She says that there was something off about her sudden erratic behavior that seemed to stretch beyond a lapse in mental health.

After her encounter, she begins seeing eerie smiles everywhere. Much like what Laura described leading up to her demise, Rose finds it difficult to ignore the unsettling feeling that lingers every time she sees someone smiling at her in that off-putting way. The longer the movie goes on, the more Rose sees this entity manifesting in her life. It gets to the point that she often can't tell what's real. From an outside perspective, she looks like she's experiencing some sort of mental break after witnessing the death of her patient. No one really believes her about the entity that they cannot see.

As the audience, we get to see the entity as Rose does, but we don't know anything more than she does, creating an air of ambiguity. Is the entity even real or are we also being tricked into believing that it exists? And is there anything in its history that explains its malevolent nature? That's something Finn purposely didn't explore while working on the film.

Parker Finn created the entity's ambiguity on purpose

"Smile" was a follow-up to Parker Finn's 2020 short film "Laura Hasn't Slept," which featured Laura's story leading up to her death at the beginning of this movie. Finn sat down with Den of Geek to elaborate on why he decided to present the smiling entity the way that he did.

"What I was chasing was whether I could take a circumstance that felt like it could, on one hand, be really deeply internal and psychological, but on the other hand, maybe there is something external and potentially supernatural happening," Finn explained, which he succeeded in because the entire film does leave viewers with a sense of wondering if they're believing in the entity because they're seeing everything through Rose's perspective.

"There are a lot of stones that are purposely left unturned in the film," Finn continued. "I always find myself way more afraid of the unknown than something that's easily defined or put into a box." He also described how this felt like it fit well into the theme of the film because it plays on the idea of something preying on its victim in a way that has them believing their mind could be turning against them.

"Certainly, I've got theories and ideas behind this thing, but what I really love is its elusive nature ... Rose almost feels like she's the butt of a giant, really mean-spirited cosmic joke," Finn elaborated, explaining why the nature of the entity is so mysterious. We know it exists, but its nature and what it actually is are all left to the imagination for a reason. He added that this made the entity even more fearsome and more relatable to the average viewer, as opposed to giving it a detailed backstory that dates back several centuries.