Is “Smile” based on a true story? Everything we know about the inspirations behind psychological horror

4 mins

If you’ve ever wondered whether “Smile” is a true story, or at least based on one, director and writer Parker Finn talks about his supernatural psychological horror film, the other films that inspired it, and the underlying message.

In 2022, Parker Finn made his directorial debut with “Smile”, a disturbing horror film that psychologically stresses its viewers and plunges them into the paranormal world.

From the cast’s impressive and authentic performances to the themes of dealing with past trauma and psychological distress, Parker Finn’s film – based on one of his short stories – has left many viewers wondering: Is “Smile” based on a true story?

What is “smiling” about?

“Smile” tells the story of Dr. Rose Cotter, played by Sosie Bacon, a psychiatrist whose career takes a dark turn when one of her patients turns herself in front of Dr. Cotter kills. Before she dies, the patient screams and her face contorts into a disturbing smile.

Stunned by the gruesome scene, Bacon’s character’s world is turned upside down as everyone everywhere she looks wears the same creepy smile. After Dr. When Cotter encounters another patient with the same smile at her psychiatric facility, he tries to wake the man from what appears to be a psychological trance.

Instead he starts Dr. Cotter tells her she is going to die and attacks her. Bacon’s character is determined to understand what is happening and realizes that she must overcome a traumatic experience to escape her petrifying reality.

Is “Smile” based on a true story?

While “Smile” is not based on a true story, Finn revealed in an interview that the film was inspired by his 2020 short film “Laura Hasn’t Slept.” The writer-director added that while the plot for “Smile” was off the top of his head, he was also thinking about other films like “Safe,” “Cure” and “Rosemary’s Baby.”

Finn reportedly stated that “Smile” was influenced by his desire to break away from the traditional jump scares of most horror films. Instead, he wanted to explore the landscape of the average person’s mind.

The writer-director wanted to deal with the innate human phenomenon of hiding one’s feelings and past while dealing with fears, stress and anxiety. “Smile” – starring Kal Penn and Judy Reyes – is about what it’s like when you feel like your thoughts have turned against you.

The ending of “Smile” explained

The death of her patient stresses Dr. Cotter’s life and relationships and leads her to search for answers. With the help of a few characters, Bacon’s character learns that smiling is a curse placed on people with trauma.

In order for the curse to be passed on, the affected person must kill themselves in front of another person. After witnessing her patient’s death, the curse was placed on Dr. Cotter, who had to confront the creature responsible for all this horror.

For this purpose, Dr. Cotter enters her parents’ home, where her previous trauma occurred. After seemingly defeating the creature, the audience watches in shock as Dr. Cotter kills himself in front of another character at the end of the film, passing on the curse and continuing the horror.

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text “Help” to the Crisis Text Line at 741 -741 or go to



DevanCole is a Dailynationtoday U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. DevanCole joined Dailynationtoday in 2021 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing:

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