Movie Notion: Straightforward methods to BEAT the Smile Monster! (Smile 2022)

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Earlier this year, Smile introduced the worldto a curse that seems unbeatable; a demon that passes on through trauma and can createhallucinations that are so real, you begin to question literally everything around you. So what do you do when your senses start tobe used as weapons against you? You turn to this episode, that's what. I have a solution. Here's how you beat the unbeatable demon ofSmile. Hello Internet! Welcome to Film Theory, the show that knowsexactly how to turn that frown upside down.

How? By clicking the unsubscribe button. See? Doesn't it make you feel a little bit better? Well, at the very least, it made me feel better. Today we're talking about Smile, the 2022horror film that was an absolutely massive hit. Critics loved it, audiences loved it, andthe accountants really loved it, you know, because it made $216 million off a $17 millionbudget. Not too shabby.

One reason for that massive success, the cursethat drives the action forward is unbeatable. You see, the story follows Dr. Rose Cotter,a psychiatrist who was traumatized after witnessing one of her patients slice off her face whilewearing a big old, creepy grin. That alone would be horrible enough, but thingsget way worse once Rose starts seeing people with that same creepy smile all around her. Eventually she realized that she's been cursedby this evil entity that isn't really given a name in the movies. It's not even clear what this thing's supposedto be. Ghost?.

Monster? Demon? It's unclear. So I'm just going to keep it as, like, curseslash demon for now. Regardless, the curse starts giving Rosevivid and terrifying hallucinations, which causes her to push away from all her lovedones. Eventually she learns that the curse is passingalong through trauma, and that the only way to get rid of it is to pass it along by causingsomeone else trauma. Otherwise, you're just stuck waiting for itto eventually claim your life. A ticking clock that the movie tells us maxesout at around four days.

It's a terrifying premise that makes for afantastic film. But you all know me at this point, loyal theorists,I’m not just going to sit back and let the jump scares wash over me as I munch my popcornand drink out of my gallon sized jug of Diet Coke. While I was in the theater my theorist cogsstarted to turn wondering what Rose or anyone infected with this thing could do to beatit. Surely there's got to be a strategy here thatwe can work out to either break the Smile demon's curse, or just play into its rulesin a way that makes everyone happy in the end. So I looked online to see if anyone had one. And no, actually.

Not really. No one came up with anything. Or, let me correct myself, no one came up with anything that kept usalive and also didn't kill a bunch of other people. So today I wanted to see if we could possiblybeat this unbeatable challenge. Is it possible to create a strategy that willput a smile on everyone's face? And not in the creepy, cursed way. Strap in, friends. We're about to find out.

Let's start with the most suggested methodand the one that we actually see Rose try in the movie: Complete Isolation. You can't pass on the demon through traumaif there's no one to pass it on to. Right? Well, it might work in theory. In Horror Movie Theory…rwrw. Way too many syllables. But in practice. No, no, no, not so much.

Isolating yourself completely is somethingthat's way easier said than done. In the movie we watch as Rose tries to isolateherself in her mother's abandoned house. While there she confronts the childhood traumathat's haunted her throughout her entire life. She processes it and she basically defeatsthe demon. Isolation for the win, am I right? Wrong. What at first seemed like a victory for Rosewas actually just an incredibly elaborate hallucination. Rose never beat the Smile demon. In fact, she lured the demon's next victimto this isolated area, and then passed it.

Along to him. But okay, what if Rose were stronger or shewas able to see through the hallucinations? Could it have worked in that case? Well, no again. Assuming you're not a billionaire, you'regoing to need to go to work to pay for stuff. And while you could work from home, you gotto have something to eat, which means getting everything delivered to your door, a.k.a. delivery people. Or it means going to the grocery store, a.k.a.

Being surrounded by some of the most aggressivepeople on the planet. Okay, so I suppose you could do it if youwere able to avoid the hallucinations and you worked from home and had everything deliveredby a remote drone. But even then, even if those huge conditionswere all in place, there's still a massive problem with this solution. This plan has to be permanent. There would be no breaks to your isolation. Every day for the rest of your life wouldbe spent alone without anyone or anything to talk to other than the demon tormentingyou.

And even without the supernatural elementhere, social isolation to this degree would be really bad for your brain. Studies have shown that socially isolatedpeople are more likely to suffer cognitive decline, memory loss, dementia. Impaired concentration, depression, anxiety. All in all, the isolation strategy requiresan insane number of difficult qualifiers to work perfectly and would still ultimatelylead you to a hard life full of mental anguish forever alone. In the end, I wouldn't necessarily classifythat as beating the Smile curse.

So let's keep looking, shall we? One other solution I saw proposed by the channelWolfman's Got Nards. Incredible channel name, by the way, was basedon the idea of controlling who you pass your trauma onto. Remember, there's more than one way to passon the Smile demon to the next victim. If you brutally kill someone in front of anotherperson, the trauma of seeing that passes the curse on to the witness. This is what the character Robert Talley didin the movie to escape the Smile demon himself. And it worked.

The demon passed on and never came back. There's just one teeny, tiny, itsy bitsy problemwith that. Robert Talley is now in prison. Also, he killed someone. That's not a great look. But, you know, for now, we're just going tofocus on the prison part. What the Wolfman’s Nards suggested was exploitingthis loophole in a systematic way; taking you, your curse and two of your closest, mostexpendable friends to a remote location. Step one: Brutally off the first of your twotravel mates.

That should pass the curse on to your secondfriend, who's probably like, “Woah, this was not the dessert party that I was expecting.” Which leads us to step number two: Bump thatone off as well. The curse dies with him and so does the onlywitness to your crime. I got to say, not only does the Wolfman haveNards, he's also got himself a pretty solid solution here. Assuming you're thorough in cleaning up andleaving no trace of your crime, you should be in the clear. And the demon is defeated once and for all.

You survived. You don't have to live a life in isolationand you're not in prison. Technically, you've completed the assignment. There's just, you know, two little problemsthere: The dead bodies that you left in your wake. Sure, you found a solution, but was it thebest solution? It's kind of like beating a video game withoutgetting all the achievements. Is there a true ending here? Is there a way to do a pacifist run? Survive, stay out of prison and kill zeropeople?.

We gotta at least try, right? Okay, so what else do we know about this curse? Well, the Smile demon doesn't seem to be ableto manifest itself in any physical way. Any time we see it manipulate something inthe real world, it's quickly revealed to be a hallucination happening inside the mindof the current victim. For example, here: while taking the form ofRose's sister, Holly, it knocks on the car window, but it isn't actually there. Or here when it makes Rose believe that she'sgotten a call from her home security company. But the phone disappears from her hand whena real call comes through.

At first, the solution here seems like itshould be to set up totems, kind of like in Inception; things that can help you realizewhat is and isn't real. In that movie, the main character used a spinningtop to determine if he was in a dream or not. So could we potentially set up something likethis to help with Rose? Well, no, probably not. Like I just said, we see that the Smile demon’sable to completely hijack someone's senses to create incredibly realistic fantasies. It's even able to completely change Rose'sperception of the gift that she's preparing for her nephew.

Though she thinks she's wrapping up a toytrain. It's actually a dead cat. If the Smile demon is able to make her thinkher bloody and furry cat is a toy train, I kinda doubt that there would be any way tofind an item, sound or visual cue that would ground Rose back to reality. Rose's senses are always going to betray her. The hallucinations are just too strong. So what if we could just remove the hallucinations? That then would largely remove the curse aspower, as its only mode of attack is by mentally.

Breaking you down. Like I said before, it doesn't have physicalpower. It only has mental power. There's just one problem. Hallucinations are incredibly complex andstill poorly understood by science. The current working theory is that they'rebased on the brain failing to properly select which stimuli to focus on and which to ignore. For instance, an auditory hallucination, whichare the most common types. They might be caused by the brain doing abit of self-talk, but then accidentally thinking.

That those words were said aloud. And what makes hallucinations especially trickyis that they're spread out across the brain. Because they're actively tricking your senses,they activate all over the brain depending on what type of hallucination you're talkingabout. Auditory hallucinations are associated withactivation of the middle and superior temporal cortex; areas involved in processing speech. Somatic hallucinations, basically phantomsensations inside your body. Those are associated with the parts of thebrain that are usually processing the sense of touch.

So really, to fight the curse’s hold overyour brain, you're going to have to fight on the battleground of your brain and you'regoing to be fighting multiple fronts all at the same time. Making things even more complicated are theneurotransmitters involved. At this point I'm sure you know that neurotransmittersare the chemical messengers in the brain that allow nerve impulses to travel between cells. Right? The one you always hear about is dopamine,that's the reward chemical. You do something good or rewarding and yourbrain suddenly gets flooded with dopamine.

As a big old pat on the back, or pat on thecerebellum. Hallucinations in your brain, though they'renot as simple as that 1 to 1 relationship, researchers believe that they involve no lessthan five separate neurotransmitters. And it's not like the levels are too highor too low. They require levels to neither be too highnor too low. Striking a tricky balance. So knowing all of this, is there a way tofight off the hallucinations in a healthy, responsible way? Yes.

If you look at Rose's symptoms after she getsinfected by the curse, her condition is shockingly similar to the psychotic disorder of schizophrenia,which is characterized first and foremost by hallucinations. In fact, according to the Diagnostic and StatisticalManual of Mental Disorders, or DSM, for short: persistent supernatural hallucinations, coupledwith a significant disturbance in work performance and interpersonal functioning, are some ofthe top criteria for diagnosing someone with schizophrenia and Rose in the movie is basicallyspeed running her way to that very diagnosis. Fortunately, this means that help may be outthere to treat the symptoms that she's experiencing. Antipsychotic medications like Clozapine arespecifically prescribed to relieve hallucinations.

For people suffering from schizophrenia. They can help calm down and clear confusionin a person with acute psychosis within a matter of days or even hours, exactly thesort of treatment time that we need for a fast acting hallucination based curse. Now, that is a huge win. We're getting the treatment we need to silencethe mechanisms that the curse is using to attack us. But pharmacological solutions aren't goingto be enough here. Whether you're talking about schizophreniaor the smile curse.

You see, individuals suffering from extremehallucinations tend to be less likely to take their medication. This happens for multiple reasons. They may deny their illness. They may have paranoia about the medication. They might not think they need it anymore. And the numbers here are telling, dependingon the report you read, anywhere between 37% and 74% of patients will stop their medicationprematurely, and that is going to greatly increase the risk of relapse.

So to avoid the risk, Rose would also needto be receiving some form of psychotherapy. The incidence of schizophrenia relapse amongpatients receiving therapy compared to those without is roughly 18% versus 60%. That is a massive difference. Now, to be fair, this isn't a full out solution. The demon won't be destroyed in her brainor anything. It'll just be silenced. It won't have a means of attacking anymore. It's a thing that will need to be maintained,lived with, rather than defeated, which honestly.

Is pretty darn fitting for the movie. Sure, on paper Smile’s about a demonic curse thatpasses from person to person. Fine. But what it's really about is mental healthand cycles of trauma. I mean, the literal premise is putting ona fake smile when just under the surface you're in mental anguish. It doesn't get much more clear cut than that. All of the other solutions that I talked abouttoday; isolating yourself, trying to hurt others, they're all unhealthy ways of dealingwith mental illness.

But asking for help, taking medication, learningto live with mental illness and trauma. They're the obvious answers that so many peoplesadly avoid because of how much stigma comes attached to mental health issues. And while Smile ends on a negative note, thesereal world situations don't have to. Rose refused to acknowledge what was happeningto her until it was much too late, and when she did turn to others to help, no one aroundher believed her. Let that be the lesson today. Be open and willing to listen with an openmind when someone cries out for help and don't always trust the smile on the outside.

We can be seriously hurting inside. By helping each other, then and only thencan we truly defeat the demon. But hey, that's just a theory. A FILM THEORY! aaaaaaaaaaaaand cut. And hey, speaking of beating horror movies,if you want the definitive way to defeat Michael Myers from the Halloween franchise once andfor all, that video is available on the left. Or, if you'd prefer, learn how to defeat thenightmare demon Freddy Krueger via the video on the right.

And if you like these sorts of episodes, makesure you click subscribe because we pop into them every once in a while, they’re someof my faves. See you all next week.

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