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‘Smile’ director admits he loves a good jump scare, even if you don’t

'Smile' director Parker Finn went for the jugular when it came to jump scares.

Parker Finn strikes a pose at a red carpet event.
Amy Sussman/Getty Images

Smile director Parker Finn is admitting he has a bit of a soft spot for jump scares, even if certain movie-goers have sworn them off entirely.

Finn’s feature-length debut film proved to be one of the biggest runaway hits of the year and has made back its $17 million shoestring budget many times over, to the point that it has now grossed north of $210 million. While Smile featured a great performance from Sosie Bacon and had a worthy message about overcoming trauma and mental illness, it also reveled in well-worn horror tropes, including a heavy dose of jump scares.

The presence of the movie’s many jolt-worthy moments apparently wasn’t the result of studio meddling trying to punch up the scares to sell more tickets, but Finn’s own affinity for including jump scares. As he explained to IndieWire,

“Some people will never love a jump scare, but I love a good jump scare. I wanted to infuse the film with jump scares that felt earned and were designed in a way that would keep an audience on their toes, sort of ramping up and changing how it’s scaring you.”

Going for a high volume of well-executed jump scares proved to pay dividends at the box office, as Smile’s late-September theatrical release seems to have brought horror fans exactly what they wanted leading up to Halloween.

With films like The Conjuring and Insidious turning into full-blown franchises dominating box offices, the jump scare became somewhat overused the in the 2010s. The technique has somewhat fallen out of fashion in favor of more cerebral horror thrills, such as Robert Eggers’ The Lighthouse or Ari Aster’s Hereditary. For better or for worse, Smile proves there’s still a market for a horror film filled to the brim with classic jump scares.

You can currently watch Smile on the Paramount Plus streaming service.

Danny Peterson
About the author

Danny Peterson

Danny Peterson covers entertainment news for WGTC and has previously enjoyed writing about housing, homelessness, the coronavirus pandemic, historic 2020 Oregon wildfires, and racial justice protests. Originally from Juneau, Alaska, Danny received his Bachelor's degree in English Literature from the University of Alaska Southeast and a Master's in Multimedia Journalism from the University of Oregon. He has written for The Portland Observer, worked as a digital enterprise reporter at KOIN 6 News, and is the co-producer of the award-winning documentary 'Escape from Eagle Creek.'