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💫 Summary
In this episode of Film Theory, we explore various ways to beat the Smile curse, a demon that passes through trauma and induces terrifying hallucinations. Options such as complete isolation and passing the curse on to others through trauma are explored, but ultimately the best solution involves seeking help, taking medication, and learning to live with mental illness and trauma. The episode emphasizes the importance of being open and willing to listen to those struggling with mental health issues.
✨ Highlights📊 Transcript
The video discusses the curse of Smile and how it can be defeated.
00:00
Smile is a 2022 horror film that gained massive success.
The curse is passed on through trauma and causes vivid hallucinations.
To defeat the curse, one must pass it along by causing someone else trauma.
Complete isolation is not an effective strategy to beat the Smile demon.
02:40
Isolating oneself is easier said than done.
Rose's victory in isolating herself turned out to be an elaborate hallucination.
Going to work or getting essential supplies would still expose a person to potential victims.
Even with remote work and delivery, there is a massive problem of being forever alone.
The character Robert Talley escapes the Smile demon curse by passing it onto others, but ends up in prison for killing someone.
05:14
Robert Talley escapes the Smile demon by passing the curse to others, but ends up in prison for killing someone.
The suggested loophole involves taking two expendable friends to a remote location and passing the curse onto them.
The solution involves killing both friends to end the curse and eliminate witnesses.
The approach raises ethical questions about whether it's the best solution and if there's a way to defeat the demon without killing anyone.
Hallucinations are complex and spread out across the brain, involving multiple neurotransmitters, making it difficult to fight the curse's hold on the brain.
07:51
Hallucinations are caused by the brain failing to properly select which stimuli to focus on and which to ignore.
Different types of hallucinations activate different areas of the brain.
Hallucinations involve at least five separate neurotransmitters.
Fighting the curse's hold on the brain requires battling on multiple fronts simultaneously.
Individuals suffering from extreme hallucinations tend to be less likely to take their medication due to denial, paranoia, or thinking they no longer need it, which greatly increases the risk of relapse.
10:31
Depending on the report, anywhere between 37% and 74% of patients will stop their medication prematurely.
Psychotherapy can help reduce the risk of relapse in schizophrenia patients.
Silencing the curse in the brain is not a complete solution, but it allows for maintenance and living with the condition.
"Smile" is not just about a demonic curse, but also about mental health and cycles of trauma.
Asking for help, taking medication, and learning to live with mental illness are healthier ways of dealing with mental health issues.
00:00Earlier this year, Smile introduced the world to a curse that seems unbeatable; a demon
00:05that passes on through trauma and can create hallucinations that are so real, you begin
00:09to question literally everything around you.
00:12So what do you do when your senses start to be used as weapons against you?
00:15You turn to this episode, that's what.
00:18I have a solution.
00:19Here's how you beat the unbeatable demon of Smile.
00:26Hello Internet!
00:27Welcome to Film Theory, the show that knows exactly how to turn that frown upside down.
00:33How?
00:34By clicking the unsubscribe button.
00:35See?
00:36Doesn't it make you feel a little bit better?
00:37Well, at the very least, it made me feel better.
00:39Today we're talking about Smile, the 2022 horror film that was an absolutely massive hit.
00:45Critics loved it, audiences loved it, and the accountants really loved it, you know,
00:50because it made $216 million off a $17 million budget.
00:53Not too shabby.
00:55One reason for that massive success, the curse that drives the action forward is unbeatable.
00:59You see, the story follows Dr. Rose Cotter, a psychiatrist who was traumatized after witnessing
01:04one of her patients slice off her face while wearing a big old, creepy grin.
01:08That alone would be horrible enough, but things get way worse once Rose starts seeing people
01:12with that same creepy smile all around her.
01:20Eventually she realized that she's been cursed by this evil entity that isn't really given
01:25a name in the movies.
01:26It's not even clear what this thing's supposed to be.
01:27Ghost?
01:28Monster?
01:29Demon?
01:29It's unclear. So I'm just going to keep it as, like, curse slash demon for now.
01:33Regardless, the curse starts giving Rose vivid and terrifying hallucinations, which
01:37causes her to push away from all her loved ones.
01:39Eventually she learns that the curse is passing along through trauma, and that the only way
01:43to get rid of it is to pass it along by causing someone else trauma.
01:46Otherwise, you're just stuck waiting for it to eventually claim your life.
01:49A ticking clock that the movie tells us maxes out at around four days.
01:59It's a terrifying premise that makes for a fantastic film.
02:02But you all know me at this point, loyal theorists, I’m not just going to sit back and let the
02:05jump scares wash over me as I munch my popcorn and drink out of my gallon sized jug of Diet Coke.
02:10While I was in the theater my theorist cogs started to turn wondering what Rose or anyone
02:15infected with this thing could do to beat it.
02:17Surely there's got to be a strategy here that we can work out to either break the Smile
02:21demon's curse, or just play into its rules in a way that makes everyone happy in the end.
02:25So I looked online to see if anyone had one.
02:27And no, actually.
02:28Not really.
02:29No one came up with anything.
02:30Or, let me correct myself,
02:31no one came up with anything that kept us alive and also didn't kill a bunch of other people.
02:36So today I wanted to see if we could possibly beat this unbeatable challenge.
02:40Is it possible to create a strategy that will put a smile on everyone's face?
02:45And not in the creepy, cursed way.
02:47Strap in, friends.
02:48We're about to find out.
02:49Let's start with the most suggested method and the one that we actually see Rose try
02:52in the movie: Complete Isolation.
02:54You can't pass on the demon through trauma if there's no one to pass it on to.
02:58Right?
02:58Well, it might work in theory.
03:00In Horror Movie Theory…rwrw.
03:03Way too many syllables.
03:04But in practice.
03:05No, no, no, not so much.
03:07Isolating yourself completely is something that's way easier said than done.
03:10In the movie we watch as Rose tries to isolate herself in her mother's abandoned house.
03:19While there she confronts the childhood trauma that's haunted her throughout her entire life.
03:23She processes it and she basically defeats the demon.
03:26Isolation for the win, am I right?
03:28Wrong.
03:29What at first seemed like a victory for Rose was actually just an incredibly elaborate hallucination.
03:34Rose never beat the Smile demon.
03:36In fact, she lured the demon's next victim to this isolated area, and then passed it
03:40along to him.
03:41But okay, what if Rose were stronger or she was able to see through the hallucinations?
03:45Could it have worked in that case?
03:46Well, no again.
03:48Assuming you're not a billionaire, you're going to need to go to work to pay for stuff.
03:51And while you could work from home, you got to have something to eat, which means getting
03:54everything delivered to your door, a.k.a.
03:57delivery people.
03:58Or it means going to the grocery store, a.k.a.
04:00being surrounded by some of the most aggressive people on the planet.
04:03Okay, so I suppose you could do it if you were able to avoid the hallucinations and
04:07you worked from home and had everything delivered by a remote drone.
04:11But even then, even if those huge conditions were all in place, there's still a massive
04:16problem with this solution.
04:17This plan has to be permanent.
04:19There would be no breaks to your isolation.
04:22Every day for the rest of your life would be spent alone without anyone or anything
04:25to talk to other than the demon tormenting you.
04:28And even without the supernatural element here, social isolation to this degree would
04:32be really bad for your brain.
04:34Studies have shown that socially isolated people are more likely to suffer cognitive
04:37decline, memory loss, dementia.
04:38Impaired concentration, depression, anxiety.
04:41All in all, the isolation strategy requires an insane number of difficult qualifiers to
04:46work perfectly and would still ultimately lead you to a hard life full of mental anguish
04:51forever alone.
04:52In the end, I wouldn't necessarily classify that as beating the Smile curse.
04:56So let's keep looking, shall we?
04:58One other solution I saw proposed by the channel Wolfman's Got Nards.
05:01Incredible channel name, by the way, was based on the idea of controlling who you pass your
05:05trauma onto.
05:06Remember, there's more than one way to pass on the Smile demon to the next victim.
05:09If you brutally kill someone in front of another person, the trauma of seeing that passes the
05:14curse on to the witness.
05:15This is what the character Robert Talley did in the movie to escape the Smile demon himself.
05:33And it worked.
05:33The demon passed on and never came back.
05:35There's just one teeny, tiny, itsy bitsy problem with that.
05:38Robert Talley is now in prison.
05:40Also, he killed someone.
05:42That's not a great look.
05:43But, you know, for now, we're just going to focus on the prison part.
05:45What the Wolfman’s Nards suggested was exploiting this loophole in a systematic way; taking
05:50you, your curse and two of your closest, most expendable friends to a remote location.
05:55Step one: Brutally off the first of your two travel mates.
05:58That should pass the curse on to your second friend, who's probably like, “Woah, this
06:01was not the dessert party that I was expecting.”
06:03Which leads us to step number two: Bump that one off as well.
06:06The curse dies with him and so does the only witness to your crime.
06:10I got to say, not only does the Wolfman have Nards, he's also got himself a pretty solid
06:14solution here.
06:15Assuming you're thorough in cleaning up and leaving no trace of your crime, you should
06:17be in the clear.
06:18And the demon is defeated once and for all.
06:21You survived.
06:22You don't have to live a life in isolation and you're not in prison.
06:25Technically, you've completed the assignment.
06:26There's just, you know, two little problems there: The dead bodies that you left in your wake.
06:31Sure, you found a solution, but was it the best solution?
06:34It's kind of like beating a video game without getting all the achievements.
06:36Is there a true ending here?
06:38Is there a way to do a pacifist run?
06:40Survive, stay out of prison and kill zero people?
06:43We gotta at least try, right?
06:45Okay, so what else do we know about this curse?
06:48Well, the Smile demon doesn't seem to be able to manifest itself in any physical way.
06:52Any time we see it manipulate something in the real world, it's quickly revealed to be
06:55a hallucination happening inside the mind of the current victim.
06:58For example, here: while taking the form of Rose's sister, Holly, it knocks on the car
07:02window, but it isn't actually there.
07:03Or here when it makes Rose believe that she's gotten a call from her home security company.
07:07But the phone disappears from her hand when a real call comes through.
07:10At first, the solution here seems like it should be to set up totems, kind of like in
07:14Inception; things that can help you realize what is and isn't real.
07:17In that movie, the main character used a spinning top to determine if he was in a dream or not.
07:21So could we potentially set up something like this to help with Rose?
07:23Well, no, probably not.
07:25Like I just said, we see that the Smile demon’s able to completely hijack someone's senses
07:29to create incredibly realistic fantasies.
07:31It's even able to completely change Rose's perception of the gift that she's preparing
07:35for her nephew.
07:36Though she thinks she's wrapping up a toy train.
07:38It's actually a dead cat.
07:39If the Smile demon is able to make her think her bloody and furry cat is a toy train, I
07:43kinda doubt that there would be any way to find an item, sound or visual cue that would
07:47ground Rose back to reality.
07:49Rose's senses are always going to betray her.
07:51The hallucinations are just too strong.
07:54So what if we could just remove the hallucinations?
07:57That then would largely remove the curse as power, as its only mode of attack is by mentally
08:02breaking you down.
08:03Like I said before, it doesn't have physical power.
08:05It only has mental power.
08:07There's just one problem.
08:08Hallucinations are incredibly complex and still poorly understood by science.
08:12The current working theory is that they're based on the brain failing to properly select
08:15which stimuli to focus on and which to ignore.
08:18For instance, an auditory hallucination, which are the most common types.
08:21They might be caused by the brain doing a bit of self-talk, but then accidentally thinking
08:25that those words were said aloud.
08:26And what makes hallucinations especially tricky is that they're spread out across the brain.
08:31Because they're actively tricking your senses, they activate all over the brain depending
08:34on what type of hallucination you're talking about.
08:37Auditory hallucinations are associated with activation of the middle and superior temporal
08:41cortex; areas involved in processing speech.
08:44Somatic hallucinations, basically phantom sensations inside your body.
08:48Those are associated with the parts of the brain that are usually processing the sense
08:51of touch.
08:52So really, to fight the curse’s hold over your brain, you're going to have to fight
08:55on the battleground of your brain and you're going to be fighting multiple fronts all at
08:59the same time.
09:00Making things even more complicated are the neurotransmitters involved.
09:04At this point I'm sure you know that neurotransmitters are the chemical messengers in the brain that
09:08allow nerve impulses to travel between cells.
09:10Right?
09:11The one you always hear about is dopamine, that's the reward chemical.
09:13You do something good or rewarding and your brain suddenly gets flooded with dopamine
09:17as a big old pat on the back, or pat on the cerebellum.
09:21Hallucinations in your brain, though they're not as simple as that 1 to 1 relationship,
09:24researchers believe that they involve no less than five separate neurotransmitters.
09:28And it's not like the levels are too high or too low.
09:30They require levels to neither be too high nor too low.
09:33Striking a tricky balance.
09:35So knowing all of this, is there a way to fight off the hallucinations in a healthy,
09:39responsible way?
09:40Yes.
09:41If you look at Rose's symptoms after she gets infected by the curse, her condition is shockingly
09:45similar to the psychotic disorder of schizophrenia, which is characterized first and foremost
09:50by hallucinations.
09:51In fact, according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or DSM, for short:
09:56persistent supernatural hallucinations, coupled with a significant disturbance in work performance
10:01and interpersonal functioning, are some of the top criteria for diagnosing someone with
10:05schizophrenia and Rose in the movie is basically speed running her way to that very diagnosis.
10:11Fortunately, this means that help may be out there to treat the symptoms that she's experiencing.
10:15Antipsychotic medications like Clozapine are specifically prescribed to relieve hallucinations
10:20for people suffering from schizophrenia.
10:21They can help calm down and clear confusion in a person with acute psychosis within a
10:26matter of days or even hours, exactly the sort of treatment time that we need for a
10:31fast acting hallucination based curse.
10:33Now, that is a huge win.
10:35We're getting the treatment we need to silence the mechanisms that the curse is using to
10:39attack us.
10:40But pharmacological solutions aren't going to be enough here.
10:42Whether you're talking about schizophrenia or the smile curse.
10:45You see, individuals suffering from extreme hallucinations tend to be less likely to take
10:49their medication.
10:50This happens for multiple reasons.
10:51They may deny their illness.
10:52They may have paranoia about the medication.
10:54They might not think they need it anymore.
10:56And the numbers here are telling, depending on the report you read, anywhere between 37%
11:00and 74% of patients will stop their medication prematurely, and that is going to greatly
11:06increase the risk of relapse.
11:08So to avoid the risk, Rose would also need to be receiving some form of psychotherapy.
11:12The incidence of schizophrenia relapse among patients receiving therapy compared to those
11:16without is roughly 18% versus 60%.
11:20That is a massive difference.
11:22Now, to be fair, this isn't a full out solution.
11:25The demon won't be destroyed in her brain or anything.
11:27It'll just be silenced.
11:29It won't have a means of attacking anymore.
11:31It's a thing that will need to be maintained, lived with, rather than defeated, which honestly
11:35is pretty darn fitting for the movie.
11:37Sure, on paper Smile’s about a demonic curse that passes from person to person.
11:41Fine.
11:42But what it's really about is mental health and cycles of trauma.
11:45I mean, the literal premise is putting on a fake smile when just under the surface you're
11:50in mental anguish.
11:51It doesn't get much more clear cut than that.
11:53All of the other solutions that I talked about today; isolating yourself, trying to hurt
11:57others, they're all unhealthy ways of dealing with mental illness.
12:00But asking for help, taking medication, learning to live with mental illness and trauma.
12:05They're the obvious answers that so many people sadly avoid because of how much stigma comes
12:09attached to mental health issues.
12:11And while Smile ends on a negative note, these real world situations don't have to.
12:16Rose refused to acknowledge what was happening to her until it was much too late, and when
12:19she did turn to others to help, no one around her believed her.
12:22Let that be the lesson today.
12:24Be open and willing to listen with an open mind when someone cries out for help and don't
12:29always trust the smile on the outside.
12:31We can be seriously hurting inside.
12:33By helping each other, then and only then can we truly defeat the demon.
12:37But hey, that's just a theory.
12:40A FILM THEORY!
12:42aaaaaaaaaaaaand cut.
12:44And hey, speaking of beating horror movies, if you want the definitive way to defeat Michael
12:48Myers from the Halloween franchise once and for all, that video is available on the left.
12:53Or, if you'd prefer, learn how to defeat the nightmare demon Freddy Krueger via the video
12:57on the right.
12:58And if you like these sorts of episodes, make sure you click subscribe because we pop into
13:01them every once in a while, they’re some of my faves.
13:03See you all next week.
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FAQs about This YouTube Video

1. How does the Smile curse induce terrifying hallucinations?

The Smile curse induces terrifying hallucinations by passing through trauma and manifesting as terrifying visions, making it a truly horrifying experience for the afflicted.

2. What are the options explored in the episode to beat the Smile curse?

In the episode, various options are explored to beat the Smile curse, including complete isolation, passing the curse on to others through trauma, seeking help, taking medication, and learning to live with mental illness and trauma.

3. Why is seeking help emphasized as the best solution to beat the Smile curse?

Seeking help is emphasized as the best solution to beat the Smile curse because it promotes open communication and support for those struggling with mental health issues, which is essential for overcoming the curse.

4. How important is it to be open and willing to listen to those struggling with mental health issues according to the episode?

The episode emphasizes the importance of being open and willing to listen to those struggling with mental health issues, highlighting the significance of empathy, understanding, and support in tackling mental illness and trauma.

5. What is the ultimate solution to beat the Smile curse, as suggested in the episode?

The ultimate solution to beat the Smile curse involves seeking help, taking medication, and learning to live with mental illness and trauma, emphasizing the importance of professional support and self-acceptance in overcoming the curse.

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