SMILEY FACE KILLERS (2020)

Smiley Face Killers.jpg

Studio:     Lionsgate
Director:    Tim Hunter
Writer:     Bret Easton Ellis
Producer:  Braxton Pope, Bret Easton Ellis, David Wulf
Stars:     Ronen Rubinstein, Mia Serafino, Crispin Glover, Amadeus Serafini, Ashley Rickards, Garrett Coffey, Cody Simpson, Rachel Crowl, Daniel Covin, Gianna DiDonato

Review Score:

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Summary:

A college student*s troubled life descends deeper into paranoia when he becomes the target of a mysterious serial killer.


Synopsis:     

Review:

※Smiley Face Killers§ should be called ※Boring B-Roll: The Movie.§ Imagine a multi-camera live TV show where one camera covers primary action, others follow secondary characters, and another just gets establishing shots for segues. It*s like the director of that show fell asleep while on the cutaway camera so we*re stuck watching filler while an actual story takes place somewhere else on angles we never get to see.

To get a sense of how exhaustingly dull ※Smiley Face Killers§ is without having to snore through it firsthand, take a peek at its content according to approximate timestamps. See for yourself if this sounds like an enticing film worth investing in:

00:00-08:00 每 At the end of this throwaway prologue, text tells us that over 150 male college students have drowned suspiciously since 1997, although many believe their deaths to be serial murders. Prior to this factoid, we see two different young men getting abducted before their dead bodies subsequently wash ashore. In the first sequence, a van pulls up in a long shot and the victim vanishes behind the vehicle. In the second, the van pulls up blurred in the background and the victim disappears offscreen. These kidnappings should be unsettling yet they*re staged in the most anemic ways imaginable.

08:00-09:00 每 Would you like a full minute montage of palm trees, brick buildings, park benches, and students milling about to introduce the college campus setting? I didn*t think so.

09:00-16:00 每 Varsity soccer player Jake Graham rides his bicycle, chats on his phone, studies in the library, lifts weights while shirtless, goes for a swim, meets his friend Adam, walks around while the mystery van stalks him, then rides his bike some more. Intrigued yet?

16:00-20:00 每 Jake hooks up with his girlfriend Keren for a seminude make-out session that manages to end in a fight about Jake not taking his medication.

20:00-25:00 每 Jake bikes back to his place to strip down for a shower. In between shots of steamy water cascading down to Jake*s bare buttocks, a &Hooded Figure* futzes with Jake*s laptop. The figure leaves behind a map marking smiley face murder locations, which perplexes Jake for all of ten seconds. He*s too busy dressing without toweling off first so the camera can indulge in another ogle of his glistening physique.

25:00-34:00 每 Jake, Keren, Adam, and two nobodies talk about nothing on their way to a beach party. Jake forgot to bring the ecstasy, so the girls immediately turn back around while Jake and Adam take to the sand with red Solo cups. Oh, the Hooded Figure still stalks about and sends cryptic messages to Jake*s phone when ※Smiley Face Killers§ momentarily remembers it*s allegedly a ※thriller.§ These supposedly suspenseful bits are so infrequent, you*d think you*re watching the world*s worst college kid soap opera that happens to have a serial killer lurking somewhere around its periphery.

34:00-37:00 每 Keren rejoins Jake at the beach for more kissing and inconsequential chit-chat. The Hooded Figure almost attacks Jake until bystanders make him think better of it and he vanishes faster than your interest in this plop of a plot.

37:00-39:00 每 Jake gets jealous about Keren talking to her ex-boyfriend Rob. Talk about juicy drama!

39:00-40:00 每 Adam says, ※This party is dead,§ much like the movie*s momentum, and everyone splits.

40:00-44:00 每 Back at Jake*s place, Keren chugs some water while Jake makes sure his roommate isn*t home. More kissing leads to sex, because ※Smiley Face Killers§ was wired by Dennis Hopper. If the movie goes more than five minutes without Jake disrobing, it will apparently explode.

44:00-50:00 每 Jake leaves Keren behind to bike to soccer practice. Get this though. Jake is late and coach is pissed! Turns out whatever the Hooded Figure did to Jake*s electronics, it messed with his phone*s clock too. How*s that for some super sinister scheming? Ooh, feel those goosebumps!

Notice we*re over halfway through the runtime and it*s barely hyperbole to say nothing has happened.

50:00-54:00 每 While Jake bikes around again, the Hooded Figure uses a hammer to bash in the brains of Jake*s roommate Devon. At last some action, except it isn*t that simple. First, the killer messes with Devon by repeatedly blocking the sinks and bathtub while running the faucets. Does this mystery murderer know how to terrorize his targets or what?

Somewhere in here we get a full look at the Hooded Figure, who is supposedly played by Crispin Glover. It could be Clint Eastwood, RuPaul, or Mae West*s ghost for all anyone knows, as he*s almost always seen as a silent shape in a black robe, and gets disguised under four pounds of make-up for the few frames when he isn*t. I*ve no idea what Glover is doing here since this is a thankless bit part that could have been filled by any inexperienced extra in need of a quick credit for his SAG card.

54:00-59:00 每 Jake starts digging into the murderer*s map and odd texts, but gets distracted with worry that Keren might be cheating on him with Rob.

59:00-62:00 每 Jake gets back on his bike for a confrontation with Keren. Cue some more relationship-related conversation that*s about as enthralling as cleaning your dryer*s lint trap.

62:00-68:00 每 Want to go for one more bike ride? This time, Jake confronts Rob at another party that predictably ends in a punch for Rob and a shove for Keren. I*m not sure if the shove was unintentional or not. I was yawning so wide my upper lip obscured my eyeballs.

68:00-70:00 每 Aw shucks, Jake*s bike has a flat! I think a viewer slashed the tire because she was sick of watching Jake ride it in every other scene. I guess that means no more rid- oh nope, now he*s going to walk while rolling the bike next to him.

70:00-75:00 每 Your belabored wait for ※Smiley Face Killers§ to fulfill its title pays off, sort of, when Jake FINALLY gets abducted. Of course, the first thing the Hooded Figure and his accomplices do is tear off Jake*s clothes, because he hasn*t been nude enough already.

For its final 15 minutes, ※Smiley Face Killers§ puts the pedal to the floor for some hectic horror that includes a few murders, a car chase, and a fiery explosion. You*d have to be a masochist to make it this far however, as the mundane misadventures of a moping man don*t create dread during the buildup. They create a dreadfully tedious test of patience. Unless you*re as obsessed as the editor with actor Ronen Rubinstein*s repeatedly undressed body, ※Smiley Face Killers§ has nothing for you.

I have a hard time deciding what would be the best drinking game to make the movie remotely interesting. Should you down a drink every time Jake takes his shirt off, checks his phone, or rides his bike? Whatever you choose, you*ll have alcohol poisoning before the 20-minute mark. Don*t worry about dying though. Odds are the crushing boredom will have already killed you.

Review Score: 20