It is very rarely that I abandon a movie I've been sent for review, but today, 40 minutes into one I did just that. To be fair it wasn't a horror, and while I wont shame it by giving away its title it concerned copious drug use, hookers, and movie moguls and was really very dull. So, I needed a movie to fill the gap in my schedule, thankfully, YouTube is a veritable treasure trove of short horrors and at random I chose Alex Magaña's Smiling Woman.
It is 1am at a desolate train station and a girl (Ariel Fullinwider) is sat waiting for a train. It isn't before long before a strange woman (Merlynda Sol) catches her attention. This woman, wearing a bright yellow dress keeps showing up in different places, always with a strange smile on her lips.
Smiling Woman was a well made short that covers a lot of ground in its 2 minute 44 second run time. There was perhaps too much going on. The woman standing around smiling would have been effective enough, instead there is also the inclusion of texts from an unknown person added into the mix which just detracted from the more visual horror. The woman was creepy, though the best part is ruined in the image for the short that shows the very end of it. People smiling for no reason always come across as sinister, and the sheer isolation of the setting worked here. The soundtrack was far too dramatic for what was going on. Usually music doesn't get in the way of films too much, yet here it is so over blown that it seemed overwhelming and drowning out the atmosphere.
There is nothing particularly surprising about Smiling Woman, but it is well made and effective in the parts that it does do right. With a tighter focus on the titular lady, rather than branching out into the generic and often used text message idea this could have been something special. Regardless, it isn't bad, worth a watch if you have a few minutes spare.