1. Smile (2022)

Caitlin Stasey as Laura in Smile (2022)

Many horror movies have unexpected hidden meanings, but 2022’s Smile comes with some serious issues. It follows therapist Rose (Sosie Bacon) who begins to experience mind-bending horrors after witnessing the violent suicide of a patient. She learns that she’s being stalked by an entity that harvests the emotional trauma of humans, and is forced to confront her own nightmarish past to try to survive.

Through the fact that Rose is a therapist and has had her own traumatic past, Smile makes a direct link between its monstrous entity and mental illness. This isn’t the issue, though. What’s problematic is the way that Smile then goes on to explain that the monster (i.e. mental illness) is contagious, and that Rose is endangering everyone around her. After her growing paranoia pushes her family away, she finds that only one person – her ex-boyfriend Joel (Kyle Gallner) – cares enough to help her. Sweet, right? Well… no.

Smile ends with Rose being defeated by the monster, which then infects Joel. So, not only does Smile allow mental illness to win in the end, but it also suggests that people can spread it around like a nasty infection. Honestly, it’s genuinely baffling to think that a film could release with such socially irresponsible subtext. However, Smile did just that, delivering one of the most terrible hidden messages of all time.

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