Smile

Emily's visit to the dentist takes an unexpected turn when she spits up something strange.

Genre: Comedy

Length: 15:00

Free To View

3.5 out of 5 stars

Producer/s : Natalie Peracchio,

Director/s : Natalie Peracchio, 

Writer/s : Natalie Peracchio, 

Actor/s : Lauren Slone, Erika Toraya

 

Open wide!

What’s the most horrific situation most of us experience in our normal lives? A two hour traffic tailback? A crowded underground train in the rush hour? A job interview? Nah. Unless you’re a cop, a firefighter, or a paramedic, it’s probably a visit to the dentist.

Writer/director Natalie Peracchio set out to communicate the fear and awkwardness she felt, and her surprising reaction, when she was last in the dentist’s chair.

Smile starts off shakily; that is, literally so, with a jerky verité style to the camerawork. Peracchio confesses to being influenced by D.A. Pennebaker’s documentary style. There’s a bit of Marathon Man here too; and a touch of another horror classic, but to name it would be a plot spoiler. There’s even some Monty Python in the deadpan surrealism.

It plays out in real time, with long takes. “Are you comfortable,” asks the dentist, and the patient says yes, but actor Lauren Stone conveys that Emily is anything but. She really shouldn’t have inspected the dentist’s toolkit, especially that giant novocaine syringe. Nothing has happened yet, the dentist hasn’t even gone in, and already we feel sick.

On reflection, it’s surprising that this setting isn’t used more in short films. Let any drama or comedy play out here, and the tension is doubled simply by the ambience. Now add needles and drills… It has the makings of a whole new subgenre.

Perracchio claims her film is a crowd pleaser, but “pleaser” isn’t exactly the word I’d use. You’ll probably want to delay your next appointment after seeing Smile. And you won’t look a gherkin in the face for a long long while.