Smile was definitely the biggest horror phenomenon of 2022. The movie, directed by Parker Finn, represents a modern reinterpretation of the never-ending curse standard, following classic horrors like The Ring or Final Destination. Viewers have wondered if something hidden in the ending leads to a different explanation, especially about Joel, Rose’s ex-boyfriend who wants to save her. Let’s have the curse explained and explore Joel’s destiny.
You can watch the official trailer for Smile (2022) here on Youtube.
Smile (2022) explained: does Joel get the curse? Will he die?
After the therapist, Rose, sees a girl committing suicide in front of herself, dying with a horrible smile, she slowly gains awareness of a terrible curse that has been going on for a long time: a malefic entity that survives in people’s traumas and needs to be passed from one person to another. Every victim of the curse is chased for days by terrifying people smiling at them: it’s a demon who wants to enter their body, but it has to wait for the right moment, with a witness who can look at their suicide. This way, the curse can continue through the witness’ trauma in an infinite chain of death.
Rose is cursed after her patient’s death and keeps seeing people smiling at her most disturbingly. During the whole movie, Rose tries to understand how to get rid of this curse without dying. She discovers the possibility of killing someone else in front of a third person witnessing, but she understands she will never be able to kill a person. So she comes up with a plan: she will spend a night alone at her childhood house, now abandoned. She will be alone, and with no witness, she will have the chance to face the curse and maybe destroy it.
Before the movie ends, Rose’s plan seems to succeed: she sets the demon on fire while no one is around, and she sees her house burned down. She believes she escaped the curse and goes to Joel’s apartment: he’s the only one believing and helping her, so he is the first one she wants to see after she feels safe. But the movie ending has a plot twist: what we see is just imagined by Rose; Joel smiles at her, proving he’s the curse still chasing her, and she realizes she’s still at her childhood home. But this time, Joel really arrived, worried for her. And she understands how dangerous that is: Joel is a potential witness that can allow the curse to go on.
People need to understand how the movie Smile explained the curse’s destiny after the ending. We see the demon entering Rose’s body, and here we know that the history is repeating: it’s precisely what happened to her patient some days ago, in front of her. Joel breaks into the house and sees Rose’s terrible smile at him. She sets herself on fire, and the movie ends with a close shot of Joel’s eye, watching Rose burn.
The movie ends at this moment. The natural ending of the plot is that Rose will die in front of Joel, and the curse will be passed to him. According to this explanation, yes, Joel gets the curse. He doesn’t die in the fire: his destiny will be living for some days more, chased by the demon who will show up continuously in the form of smiling people until he passes the curse to someone else.
Joel definitely doesn’t die in Smile. He’s still alive at the movie’s last shot, presumably getting the curse at that exact moment. Will he die? If he follows what happened to almost all victims, he will commit suicide in front of someone else, passing the curse to that person. Unless he decides to follow what the man in prison did: killing someone else instead of himself, causing trauma in a new witness who will get the curse.
Is there an alternative way the ending of Smile can be explained? Well, there is still a tiny possibility that Joel somehow saves Rose, but that would have no precedent: what happens if the curse’s victim already has the demon inside her but doesn’t manage to kill themselves? How can the plot continue?
The movie director, Parker Finn, said he still has several ideas for a sequel that wouldn’t just continue with the curse in the way everybody expects. But an eventual Smile 2 is still not in the works: only if a second movie is made we can have final answers to these open questions.