Well, I've been saying it since I started this blog, and now I have the proof: Slasher movies are destroying my brain! The movie that I was planning to watch this week, He Knows You're Alone, was one I had done already. Luckily, in a weird twist of fate, I was accidentally also sent Smiley, that movie that I never got around to watching last spring, when I was hospitalized. What comes around, goes around. So, back by no demand whatsoever, we get to finally watch Smiley this week. Settle in for SPOILERS...
So, this one begins with a fairly standard slasher premise: A young teen babysitter named Stacy is texting someone while on the job. A scary face suddenly appears in front of Stacy, but it's just the little girl she's watching, trying to scare her. Stacy puts down her phone to talk to the girl.
She discovers that the young girl is pretty Internet-savvy(What kid isn't these days?), as the kid shows her a Chat Roulette-type of website. Then the girl explains the legend of Smiley, the killer we're waiting for...Good, let's get in gear!
The legend is a basic rip-off of Candyman...You get onto any sort of online video chat. At any point during the chat, you type the phrase "I did it for the lulz", 3 times in a row. After the third time, a figure wearing a Smiley-face mask made out of flesh appears, then he kills you. Or the other person in the chat. Or something.
Believing the story to be nonsense, Stacy laughs it off. Then she gets jumped again! Oh, this time it's the little girl's father. He apologizes for being so late, then offers to write the babysitter a check. The entire time, he's also drooling over poor Stacy. Perv.
When she gets home, Stacy boots up her laptop. She signs on to one of those online chats, then browses through some of the possibilities. An angry-looking guy in thick glasses pops up, and his screen name is "Stranger", which seems kind of ominous. After a short introduction, Stacy tells Stranger that she likes his glasses. He replies that he's going to murder her.
A noise causes her to look over her shoulder, but the bedroom is still empty behind her. Stacy wanders down the hallway, finding a glass door slightly ajar. She creeps back to her room, still afraid that she might not be alone in the house.
She sits down to resume her chat with Stranger, then impulsively types "I did it for the lulz" 3 times. The bedroom door swings open, then Smiley grabs Stacy, stabbing her through the back. Stranger sees the murder, turns to a friend in the room, and starts to laugh. Then the opening credits roll.
Next, we meet Ashley, a cute young coed about to move into a house near her college. Her dad is nervous about her living off-campus, but she assures him that everything will be fine. After a quick hug, they part ways.
Inside the house, Ashley meets a girl with the unlikely name of Proxy. Proxy??? Not "Roxy", which would actually be a name, but PROXY? Really, movie, you want to irk me this early? What are the other characters called, Fallomba, Snik-snik, and Fartknockers? (By the way, if anyone who reads this wants to make a slasher flick with a character named "Fartknockers", I guarantee you at least ONE 5-star review.)
Anyway, Proxy sees Ashley as the stereotypical "innocent young woman trying too hard to fit in", and tries to ditch her by making plans to go to a party that evening. Ashley somehow misses the subtlety of her cold shoulder, and begs to go the party with her. Proxy gives in, and off they go!
They walk around the grounds of the campus, and Proxy reveals that she hasn't ever actually met most of the people at the party that they're going to. She knows them online, through the 4chan website. Ashley starts to get nervous about the party, so she and Proxy get a little bit buzzed on a joint along the way.
The party is pretty huge, and they soon meet a friendly guy by the name of Zane. He flirts with Ashley quite a bit, bragging that he's a bit of an expert on "The strange and retarded," whatever that means. Proxy says that it sounds like the title of a crappy soap opera.
Zane elaborates, explaining that he's fascinated by people who believe in myths that have no basis in reality, like Bigfoot or the Chupacabra. Then he makes a quick joke or two, and disappears to go get wasted, leaving the girls laughing over how strange he is. Or re...nah, too easy.
Proxy encourages Ashley to talk to another guy across the room, so she heads in that direction. His name is Binder, but Zane interrupts the conversation and dubs him "Pedobear". 2 other guys start to bully Binder, and one of them was the guy who laughed when Stacy was killed by Smiley in that online chat.
Speaking of that scene...it plays again, except now we realize that we're seeing it from his side of the chat. After Stacy is killed by Smiley, Ashley screams, and the group at the party just laugh. Proxy assures her that it's just a trick, and then repeats the legend of Smiley, and how to summon him.
The party gets wild and crazy, and so does Ashley. She gets plastered, and soon they're all just laughing and behaving like loons. At one point, she even starts to write stuff on a sleeping guy's face. I hope she doesn't have class the next day...
Ashley sleeps until past noon, and rushes to class. Heh. She gets to her first class just as the professor is giving his introduction, and she gets to the nearest seat. The class is called Intro to Reason and Ethics, and the instructor, Prof. Clayton, asks them why they think the class is a required course. Ashley gives him an answer that he likes, earning her some brown-nosing points. They talk after class, and he assures her that he won't hold her tardiness against her.
That night, Ashley and Proxy compare how their days went. Proxy teases her a little bit about how much she drank at the party. Then they see a video of the guy whose face Ashley drew on in that video chat site, and he viciously get attacked by Smiley. Ashley insists that they should bring the video to the police, but Proxy points out how silly the story would sound.
Ashley tries to laugh it off as well, but she still seems worried. Proxy offers to set her mind at ease by typing "I did it for the lulz" 3 times, just to prove that nothing would happen. They scroll through a bunch of random chats, before settling on some shirtless dweeb. Proxy then advises Ashley to envision Smiley in her mind before typing.
She tells the shirtless guy that he's going to die, and then types "I did it for the lulz" 3 times in a row. Nothing happens at first, so they relax. Then Smiley rises up and stabs the nerdy guy, and they scream.
Ashley declares that they need to go right to the police, but Proxy has a different take on the issue. She argues that going to the cops will bring them unwanted attention, and the killer could then learn who they are. The discussion is disrupted by a call from Ashley's father.
He can tell that she sounds tense, but she explains that she's just nervous about being away from home, and that she misses him. He buys it, then Proxy pops up, prompting Ashley to end the call. She goes back inside, and the matter of the video is dropped for the night.
In class the next day, Clayton gets the class into a discussion about how to prove a hypothesis. With her mind still on Smiley, Ashley asks the professor what you'd do if your hypothesis turned out to be so incorrect, that something seemingly impossible seemed to be the result. Clayton introduces her to the concept of ideology, the idea that you have complete confidence in something you THINK that you know. He lists guys like Hitler and Bin Laden as examples of people who followed their ideologies to extremes.
After class, Ashley decides to do some research at the campus library. While looking at various book titles, Ashley literally runs into Binder. They get friendly, and Ashley asks him if he believes in Smiley. Binder's theory is that some legends grow in strength as more people believe in them, and that Smiley is one such entity.
When Ashley asks him if that means that Smiley is real, he responds that, even if Smiley isn't real, the videos of him are. She likes that explanation, and they exchange phone numbers. Then she heads back to the house, just in time to be invited to another party hosted by Zane.
More crowds, more music, and more drinking. Proxy leaves Ashley to go find the bathroom, and Ashley overhears 2 girls talking about the latest video of Smiley. She spots Zane across the room, and decides to see what he knows about the urban legend.
Zane and his buddies laugh at her questions, but then Zane gets serious after his obnoxious friends leave. He asks Ashley what she knows about the murder of his friend, and accuses her of invoking the presence of Smiley. He admits that he even conjured up the killer, but assumed that it was all just a prank. Then he accuses Ashley of knowing more about what happened to his friend than what she's told him.
She staggers away, but not before Zane demands to know what she's going to do if Smiley comes after them next. She walks back to the house in a drunken stupor, then stop;s in the middle of the campus quad when she thinks that she spots Smiley. She shakes her head to clear her thoughts, and the killer looms right in front of her, so a chase begins.
Ashley runs the rest of the way to the house, but Smiley follows her. The killer lurks at the front door, so Ashley goes from room to room, desperate to find a good place to hide. Smiley finds a way to enter the house, and ambushes the frightened teen, so she screams for help.
The whole thing turns out to have been a dream. Proxy finds her in the bedroom, screaming in her sleep, and doesn't believe that the chase was anything more than a nightmare. Ashley shows her a part of her blouse that Smiley ripped, but Proxy still doesn't see how that proves anything. After all, if Smiley had been there, then why would he have left her alive? Proxy asks Ashley if she takes any medications for mental disorders, and that gives Ashley a reason to awkwardly pause. Uh oh...
Yeah, she takes anti-psychotic pills. Or, she DID take them, at one point. Ashley weaned herself off of the pills gradually, as she reveals to the school shrink, but perhaps she might want to get her prescription updated. Oh, and the school shrink resembles Maura Tierney a little bit, so, you know, "hubba".
She doesn't tell the shrink about Smiley, so the advice she gets is pretty iffy, at best. She merely admits that she's been on edge and frightened with some frequency, and the shrink thinks it might be because she's far from home, and probably missing her deceased mother. Ashley gets a prescription for something that will calm her nerves, then is sent home.
As Ashley is leaving, Proxy collides with her. Apparently, Zane has informed her of another murder that was posted online. They quickly make their way over to his place to figure out the reason behind the killings.
Zane is over the edge. He's got a gun, and he's ranting and raving about security. It turns out that he's not really a student, but an elite computer hacker; the sort of guy who just hacks into national banks when he needs money, and delves in the personal history of anyone he might want to use and abuse.
He points his gun at Ashley, and demands to know what connection she has to Smiley. Then he admits that his hacking might have brought him to the attention of any number of government superpowers, but that wouldn't explain the presence of Smiley. Ashley proposes that the killer is somehow weirder and more powerful than any of those things, and Zane admits that anything might be possible. He sends them away, then returns to hiding out with his gun.
Ashley has another nightmare, then she endures another class. The discussion in class this time concerns the very existence of life itself, and whether or not we exist because something else exists on a level above us, allowing us to have self-awareness. Or something like that. I don't know, maybe this would have been better if I had watched it while high. Certainly wouldn't have hurt.
After class, Ashley decides to do some research about Smiley on the school computers. She searches for more of his murder videos, as well as information about 4chan, and other hacker knowledge. Unbeknownst to her, a dark figure is approaching the computer, and he has a knife in one hand.
It's Binder. She jumps at the sight of him, and he shows her an employee ID card, revealing that he's in charge of the campus computer network. She tells him about her research into Smiley, and he remains skeptical, until she says that she caused a student to die by summoning the killer.
Binder's reaction is...odd. He claims that when he tried to summon Smiley, nothing happened. Ashley explains that you have to strongly desire the harm to inflict it, and that only seems to get Binder more excited. Ashley gets upset, and decides to return to the house.
She returns to the video chat from her bedroom PC, and scrolls through a handful of different subscribers. Then she sees Smiley himself in the last one, waiting for her. She asks him what he is exactly, and he threatens to pay her another visit. She asks him where he is, and he responds, "right behind you", which is freaky. To make matters worse, his screen has gone black all of a sudden, with no indication of where he might be.
Ashley turns around, and finds Proxy standing there, demanding to know what she's up to. They have a fight, and Proxy storms out of the house. Ashley decides to call her father, but something at the window scares her, and she drops her phone on the sidewalk below, smashing the phone to pieces. Proxy is standing there, and she assumes that Ashley was throwing the phone at her.
Ashley decides to pay another visit to the school shrink. She tearfully admits that she's having some kind of breakdown, and the shrink decides that they should meet on a daily basis...starting tomorrow. For now, she just wants Ashley to get some sleep. She prescribes a stronger pill, then sends the poor girl back home.
On her way across the quad, she texts a quick apology for her abrupt exit at the library to Binder. He lets her know that he's been upset about the recent events as well, and that seems to ease some of her tension. She decides to pay a visit to Professor Clayton's office, and he's there to greet her.
They discuss whether or not the human race is doomed to kill itself off, and Clayton offers her a stiff drink. She declines, but he pours himself one. Then he launches into a diatribe about how our instinct to survive at any cost, and to use up every planetary resource to further our own progress makes us all parasites.
Oh, and he starts to close all of the blinds in his office, in the most menacing way possible. Clayton then hovers over her, whispering all of his crazy, menacing crap about death, all while slowly getting drunk. Ashley finally decides that she's had enough, gets up, and leaves his office.
She returns to the library to work on a school assignment, but gets the unnerving sensation that she's being watched. A glance around reveals nothing, but then Smiley appears on her computer monitor. He waves at her in a mocking manner, and she overreacts, smashing the computer, and yelling and screaming. She collapses onto the floor in tears, then becomes aware that other students are watching and even filming her.
Ashley returns to the house, where she has a brief hallucination of Smiley. She takes a couple of the new pills that she was prescribed, looks at them, then decides not to ingest them. She cries, and heads to her bedroom.
Another nightmare or hallucination occurs. In this one, several versions of Smiley appear in the bedroom, and one of them starts to strangle her. Ashley screams, and a shadowy figure darts past her bed. It appears to be her deceased mother at first, but then it transforms into Smiley.
Ashley screams and wakes up yet again, only to find Proxy at her bedside, holding her hand over her own face. Apparently, she came into the room to check on Ashley, and was punched in the face for her efforts. Ashley apologizes to her, then places a call to the police, to tell them everything she knows.
She meets a weary detective named Diamond, and gives him her statement about the killing spree. After making her recount every detail, he informs her that they've never found a single shred of evidence that a crime was ever committed. No bodies, no crime scenes, no murder weapons, just a big, fat pile of nothing. Oh, but they do have one thing: a video of Ashley, showing her destroying a school laptop.
The cops tell Ashley to stop wasting their time, and just go home. Detective Diamond also suggests that perhaps Ashley should get help from a psychiatrist, to which she sobs that she already is. That doesn't go over too well.
After a brief chat with Proxy, Ashley keeps her next appointment with her doctor. She admits that her sense of reality might be a bit off, and is told that she's making progress toward recovery. The positive feedback gives Ashley a reason to smile.
She calls Binder, and he visits her to give her some advice on how to keep her computer information encrypted. He even goes a step further, giving Ashley an old laptop of his, complete with the latest security updates. She thanks him, and they share a few impulsive kisses. Proxy breaks up the intimacy, and we discover that she's going away for the weekend.
That night, Ashley assures her dad during a call, that she's doing much better. She gets a message from Proxy, and the roommate is in a tizzy because her boyfriend isn't returning her calls. Ashley offers to go check on him, and she takes her phone with her.
At the boyfriend's place, no one appears to be home. Ashley finds the front door open, but no Zane in sight. A room-by-room search reveals that Zane has been added to the list of Smiley victims. Ashley calls Diamond to report the crime, but he hangs up on her.
She returns to the house, but Proxy urges her to place another call to the police. Ashley has a different plan in motion. She locks herself into the house, then tells Proxy to type "I did it for the lulz" 3 times, to lure Smiley to the bait.
It's a terrible plan. Not only does he now have her trapped inside, but now he can be anywhere he wants to be, and just take her right out of existence. As if to prove their point, all of the Smileys come at her at the same time.
Ashley backs away from the many killers, then dives out of the nearest window. She dies. and the killers watch her from the window. Then they congratulate one another for the way they all pulled it off. Binder, Zane, Stacy, all of them. The rest leave, and only Proxy and Zane remain behind to chat. They grin into their webcams, then Smiley attacks Proxy, mauling her in front of Zane. During the credits, we get one final scene, showing that Ashley isn't quite dead yet, but that she is ready to get back at them. the end...?
Let's hope so! I hate watching a slasher flick where there aren't any victims. And they wasted what could have been an interesting concept on such a dull film. I can't imagine what I would have thought back in April, when I was felling sick and confused. Yuk. 1 out of 5, for at least the concept of Smiley. Now just place him in a better story.
And what did I learn from watching this?
-Never assume that your "clever twist" is actually that clever, because it probably isn't.
-Colleges are filled with insane people.
-Friends don't let old friends murder new friends, especially if it's just for "lulz", or whatever.
Up next, a heartwarming tale about killer kids, and the families that have to murder them to survive. Fun, lighthearted stuff!