The exploration of urban legends is nothing new in horror films and is a fertile ground that has been mined many times so it comes as no surprise that the urban legend that is Bloody Mary is updated for a new audience in the film Smiley (2012). Ashley (Caitlin Gerard) newly arrives at college to experience a new crazy way of life first hand but gets thrust within the mystery of the urban legend that is Smiley. During a college party, Ashley and a group of her friends including her roommate Proxy (Melanie Papalla) engage in an internet based urban legend that calls for someone to type the phrase “I did it for the lulz” three times to an unsuspecting participate who is then killed by the applicably named Smiley in a violent and gruesome way online for everyone to see. When Ashley does it to someone herself she suddenly starts seeing Smiley in the real world who comes after her. Now, Ashley must discover whether or not she made the urban legend true or if it is all in her head before anyone else is killed.
Sometimes urban legend based films can be good such as Candyman (1992), The Barrens (2012), or Urban Legend (1998) but more often than not they are a travesty such as Urban Legends 2: Final Cut (2000) and Urban Legends: Bloody Mary (2005). With this film the character of Smiley is just as interesting as that of Candyman and the rich history of the character is explored and part of the allure. Urban legends make for an interesting look at how characters look at myths and how they can affect the psyche of those characters and this film is no exception. The death of Ashley’s mother had a profound effect on her and it is at the heart of her dilemma now which makes for an interesting character flaw that helps audiences identify with the her and her search for the truth about Smiley and whether it is real or all in her head.
Overall this is a better than expected film with enough suspense and blood to satisfy any horror fan especially those more prone to the Scream films. It also helps that Smiley has a very distinct look that will help him become an icon of horror like Candyman or Ghostface.