“Smile,” despite its sunshine-y name, is currently scaring the hell out of America.
The original Paramount horror movie debuted at #1 at the box office this weekend. And for good reason – it’s really scary! “Smile,” from writer/director Parker Finn, follows a young doctor named Rose (Sosie Bacon), who uncovers an insidious curse after one of her patients murders herself in front of Rose.
“Smile” recently had its world premiere at Fantastic Fest, an international film festival in Austin, Texas that specializes in genre movies. Known for its raucous crowds, Bacon told TheWrap what that first screening was like.
“My gosh. I was a bit like, Is everybody okay? This is a lot,” Bacon said. “I sort of felt uncomfortable for everybody because obviously it was uncomfortable to shoot, but watching with the crowd, I was like, Oh my God, this is intense. It was fun also to see how the laughter and the scares… I don’t know. Everyone seemed very physically and emotionally affected by it. I’m not going to lie. My mom was on the floor.” (Bacon’s mom, by the way, is Kyra Sedgwick. Her father is Kevin Bacon, whose horror credits include “Flatliners,” “Tremors” and “Stir of Echoes.”)
TheWrap spoke to Bacon about the appeal of horror movies, what it was like interacting with “Smile’s” big monster and whether her dad had any thoughts.
As an actress, what is the appeal of horror movies?
Let’s see. Well, I definitely think I’ve drawn to the dark and disturbing. I always find that to be something that’s interesting to get into. And also this movie in particular, this script, when I read the script, I was like, everything that I have to create typically as the history of a character, because I play a lot of dark characters, and I usually have to sprinkle some childhood trauma in there. But he sprinkled it all in for me. So it was kind of like, cool. I get to not just remember it, but you get to see it.
You’re so emotionally distraught throughout the film. How is easy it for you to get to that place?
I don’t know. There’s no real trick or way that’s easy to describe. It’s sort of just living the memories beforehand so you really are remembering the character’s memories and not your own in a way. I don’t know how to… It is… It’s hard. It’s hard.
Did you watch any classic horror movies to get prepared for this?
I try not to watch movies to prepare for a part because then I worry that I’m going to try to repeat or copy. But I do watch a lot of documentaries and I’ve seen all the classic horror movies. And actually Parker had me watch this movie called “Safe,” with Julianne Moore. I loved how the hospital had those ’70s colors. They’re so bleak in a way. That probably wasn’t his comp at all because there’s so many different colors in this movie.
He just brought that up to me!
He did? You’re kidding. That’s because we have mind connection. And actually… No, I’m just kidding. No, but that was a movie that I watched I hadn’t seen before. Because I’ve seen all of them, and it was really cool to watch that one for other reasons, like “Kalifornia” and whatever. But mostly I watched documentaries, interviews with people going through similar things to try to understand.
Did you know what the monster was going to look like before?
Nope. No idea. It all just… But again, it all felt like a fever dream.
Was it just a tennis ball?
It was not a tennis ball. Everything you see is what it was. We didn’t use any CGI except for tiny, tiny little things that they did later. It’s all practical.
Yep. Every single thing. I’m not even… Is that, I mean, is that a secret? All real. I swear. We used all practical special effects.
Isn’t that crazy? They built it all. Every single thing. And same with his short. So that’s why it was so visceral. That’s probably why it feels so visceral to watch it because there was no tennis balls.
You brought up the short, I mean, first-time filmmaker, what was that experience like?
I mean, it definitely didn’t feel that way. He really didn’t fall into so many first-time filmmaker traps, which is rushing and skipping things. That didn’t happen. He is meticulous, passionate about everything that he sought out to do. That’s why it is the way that it is. It just worked. And he built everything. It was all consistent with the short in the sense that the short was all set design. That’s why it was so amazing. Just cool.
Your dad’s done a bunch of horror movies. Did he say something after the movie like, “It was no ‘Tremors.’”
Yeah, he did. He was like, “Did they build those worms?” No. No, he loved it. He’s proud. He was really proud. I could tell. He was like, “Great.” I think they were a bit like, “Whoa.”
“Smile” is now playing exclusively in theaters.