‘Smile’ Symbolization And Psychological Aspect, Explained: Why Did The Victim Smile Before Killing Themselves?

Inner demons are the negative feelings that reside in the depths of our psyche and influence us to commit vile acts. Wrath, envy, and guilt are all the inner demons or evil emotions that control our minds. If we combine all of those emotions to make it look like a monster, such a monster could resemble the demon depicted in the film “Smile.” “Smile” is not only a horror film, but it also attempts to depict mental health and the factors that cause it to deteriorate. Therefore, we will go through in-depth why the monster shown in the film nests inside the human body and how its existence is related to mental disease.


Spoilers Ahead

How Sensitive Was The Depiction Of Mental Health In ‘Smile’?

“Smile” depicts the story of Dr. Rose Cotter, a psychiatrist by profession. But we have seen that she was more than simply a doctor; she enjoyed what she did. Knowing about human psyches and treating sick patients was more of a passion for her than a profession. It seems that she had not only studied human psychology but also felt that the treatment of a mentally ill patients needed to be delicate, as they weren’t subjects to be studied but human beings who needed care and compassion. Only then could they be treated properly. So her style of treatment was unconventional since we saw her talking to her patients as if she truly understood their condition. She felt empathy for those patients because she, too, was a victim of internalized trauma. Her internal suffering increased after Laura Weaver’s bizarre suicide in front of her eyes, which led her mind to stop functioning properly. She wanted to dig deep to find out the source of Laura’s disease, and thus, she began to feel exactly the same way Laura had felt. “Smile” establishes the viewpoint that human psychology is a tremendously intricate issue in which no amount of research can precisely diagnose the underlying problems of every human being.


Laura and Rose both continually sought aid to relieve their suffering, but no one knew what was wrong with them. This is frequently the case when mental illness is entirely overlooked in our society since none of us can understand the trauma that someone is going through. A person exhibits post-trauma symptoms that appear unusual to the people around them since they have never experienced that before. Or, if they have, they expect other people to cope with it without comprehending that every human being has a unique defense mechanism. Some people have poor self-esteem and desire to be uplifted, but they are typically dragged down because of their unusual personalities, which the others around them begin to dislike. They are frequently neglected in our society because they are in agony and unable to communicate. None of Rose’s loved ones could comprehend how this smiling creature was gradually devouring her. Rose herself tried hard to solve the situation but failed since she could never escape her mind, which had already been devastated by the presence of her bad emotions and thoughts. All she wanted was for someone to believe her. She expected her partner to understand her, but he felt she was insane. Joel, who might be Rose’s ex-boyfriend, on the other hand, understood Rose’s situation because he had witnessed the history of such people committing suicide. That’s why Rose sought to save Joel and keep him away from herself, but the evil also captured Joel.

What Might Be the Psychological Aspect of Demon?

Doctors frequently advise patients to avoid thinking about obsessive and intrusive thoughts, which may derive from a post-traumatic event. They advise canceling those negative thoughts whenever they arise in our minds. If we do not dismiss those thoughts and instead try to find an explanation for them, our brain adjusts the pattern of explaining the negativity and causes us pain. Thus, we feel trapped in a loop from which we can never escape. Instead, avoiding those distracting thoughts and replacing them with soothing emotions may result in a cure. If we assume that the monster shown in “Smile” was a delusional representation of Rose’s inner evil sentiments, we can be certain that it was difficult for Rose to break free from them. She could have healed her emotional wound if she had moved on from the death of her mother and lived her life pleasantly, but it was difficult for her to do so. She attempted to get to the root of the problem and discover what was causing it. She was never free of her thoughts and unpleasant emotions, so she tried to be socially isolated. Other victims, like Rose, had attempted to comprehend that demonic existence within their minds that gave those evils more power, which led them to die or kill someone in order to keep the demon alive.


Why Did the Demon Find Rose’s Mind ‘Inviting’?

Rose was ten years old when her mother died in front of her eyes. Her mother, who may have had a mental condition, overdosed and asked Rose for help, but Rose, who was terrified of her mother’s drug-induced manic episodes, did not call for help or try to save her. Since then, Rose has felt sorrow for her actions because she could have understood her mother’s mental condition, which she could not. But it was not her fault, as she was not old enough to comprehend the issue. When she grew up, she may have decided to study psychology because she believed she could help others ease her own guilt. But the shame and pain persisted with her, and she didn’t ignore the nightmares; instead, she worried about them. She voiced her concern for the mental patients, but she was ignorant of her own descent into negativity. Her senior advised her to sleep because she had been working in the psychiatric unit for several weeks without any vacation. Rose had still been disturbed by her nightmares, so she may have taken the opportunity to work the night shift in order to escape those dreadful flashbacks that haunted her dreams. However, fleeing was not really an option. The heaviness of remorse tortured her inner soul. As a result, it was an ideal area for a demon to inhabit. That’s why the demon at the end of the film called Rose’s mind “inviting.” Without even her knowledge or intention, Rose’s troubled psyche had invited that demon to take over her mind.

Furthermore, the devil chose his victims because they were in anguish over the loss of a loved one. He disguised himself as their loved one and approached the victims in order to enter their minds. We see that Rose had also seen the demon in the disguise of her mother. Seeing her mother, Rose felt weak and began expressing her emotions. Though she wanted to leave, the demon told her that she could never escape her mind. She eventually surrendered to the demon, who forced her to commit suicide and brought Joel to watch it so he could continue his pattern of survival in the human world.


What Did The ‘Smile’ Symbolize?

The demon’s smile symbolizes the reality underlying the mental disorder. The monster in the film smiles horrifyingly at his victims and haunts them. It could mean that our smiles are really a mask that is used to hide our inner distress. When we see someone who normally has a happy face, we assume they are content, but their inner soul may have had a breakdown that they couldn’t express. That’s why, when Laura smiled strangely at Rose, she was relieved to discover that she was still alive, but Laura’s soul had already been sold to the devil. That is how we often can’t tell if a smile is malicious or benign.

In the climax of the film, you might have expected Rose to defeat the smiling devil, but the film presented a grim reality. Though humans can defeat their negative emotions or inner demons, they cannot completely kill them. Just like Rose’s therapist mentioned, trauma cannot be healed, but we should learn to take control of it. However, it doesn’t mean that we should coexist with evil. So to defeat the evil inside us, we must express our emotions and empathize with others as well. We see Rose build a wall around her so she can maintain a distance from everyone, but that couldn’t be the solution. We should let our pain out instead of keeping a wall around us. If we have the willpower to move on from the trauma, canceling out any bad feelings, we will see the sunlight after a dark and stormy night.


“Smile” is a 2022 psychological thriller film directed by Parker Finn.

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Poulami Nanda
Poulami Nanda
Poulami Nanda hails from a medical background, yet her journey is to cross the boundaries of medicine and survive in the cinematic world. The surrealistic beauty of cinema and art has attracted her from a very young age. She loves to write poems, songs, and stories, but her dream is to write films someday. She has also worked as a painter, but nothing attracts her more than cinema. Through her writings, she wants to explore the world of cinema more and more and take her readers on the same ride.

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