Review: "The Smiling Man is a Piece of Amazing Horror Art"

Big thanks to the folks at We Are Indie Horror for a fantastically favorable review of The Smiling Man. We are humbled by their response to our film, it's all one could ask for as a filmmaker. I mean, damn, check out these quotes

"...some of the scariest and most intense moments in a short film."

"...each and every shot can be made a painting"

"The Smiling Man is a piece of amazing horror art that will end as a timeless classic and will outshine any modern horror feature length film. "

Check out their full review here:

Huge thanks to the entire crew who brought their A games to make this film possible, from Abbi and Strange Dave in front of the camera, David Holechek and his team behind the lens and Melanie Leandro and her team behind the makeup to Vivien Villani for his haunting score and Jamey Scott for his fantastic mix and sound design. Of course, we're nothing without the rest of the Defiant Images guys and gals.

Super stoked for SXSW coming in a couple of weeks' time!

The Smiling Man Review: "a truly nightmarish creation."

We are grateful to the awesome folks at Hickey's House of Horror for taking the time out to check out our film and write their fantastic review of The Smiling Man. It's got some spoiler-y bits, but it's hard to be spoiler-free when you're reviewing a film with a running time of seven minutes.

If you haven't seen it yet but want to get the gist of the review, we've pulled some quotes for you:

  • "this may be a short but it looks every bit as polished as a big studio feature."
  • "[Strange] Dave's performance is spectacularly creepy."
  • "a superbly executed and lean exercise in carefully cultivated fear."
  • "With a great cast, some superb effects work and an assured confident director who knows how to shoot horror, The Smiling Man is an absolute must-see."

Read the full review here:

If you're looking to check out the film, we'll be screening this weekend in Brazil at the MAC Horror Film Festival to close out November, and we'll be at A Night of Horror in Australia and PDXtreme in Portland in December.

The Smiling Man Review: "the mark of a truly skilled manipulator of emotion."

The great folks at Horror House Party reviewed The Smiling Man during our screening at the Horrible Imaginings Horror Film Festival in San Diego. The review comes in two parts, one is spoiler-free, and the other spills most of the juicy plot details.

If you have yet to see The Smiling Man, it's probably better to just check out the "spoiler free" review. You can check it out here:

Spoiler Alert!

For those of you who have already seen it, check out their very positive review below:

Looking to see The Smiling Man? It is screening in 15 film festivals all over the world in October alone! This weekend, we will be at the Sacramento Horror Film Festival (Oct. 10, actress Abbi Chally and her mom Mellisa will be in attendance!), next weekend we will be in Boise at the Idaho Horror Film Festival (10/17, writer/director AJ Briones in attendance!), Biloxi for the Fear Fete Horror Film Festival & Convention (nominated for 4 awards!) and Louisville for Fright Night Film Fest!

For a complete list of our upcoming screenings, check out our screening page here:

The Smiling Man is "an exercise in lean yet undeniably terrifying horror." - Fangoria Magazine

Wow! Fangoria just featured The Smiling Man in their article "15 Submissions To Die For: AJ Briones' The Smiling Man!"

It reads very much like that dream article every filmmaker has ever wished to read about themselves but would never dare admit, because it's such a crazy thing to think! As a filmmaker, you make the best possible film you can make with the resources available to you and you just hope that it resonates with some people... but you never really know how it's going to be received.

I've had a very fortunate life with many career highlights: I helped launch the Sega Dreamcast, worked alongside Sonic Team to help create Sonic Adventure, created one of the very first virtual cameras using a shoe, was part of James Cameron's team that created Avatar (my boys have a picture with the Oscar to prove it), and got to help create some of the biggest film franchises out there, learning from some of the best artists and filmmakers along the way. I have to say, having my short film featured on Fangoria with such a positive and flattering review belongs right up there with all of them.

I have to provide context to explain. 

When I was a kid I was obsessed with horror movies. I never had a subscription to Fangoria, but I would take regular trips to the bookstore to buy the latest copy, alongside Cinefex, Heavy Metal and sometimes Rue Morgue. I think I had a stack of at least 50 Fangorias in my room; a room which had posters of Evil Dead 2, Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, Darkman and a big honking Freddie Krueger gloved sweater hand bursting out of the wall, complete with cut paper and cardboard made to look like broken drywall. In that very room I spent countless hours sitting in bed, poring over the pages of Fangoria, reading every little article and classified ad. In the corner, I had 2 VCR's strung together and a crude A/B mixing board to edit my home made movies. On my desk, my dad's VHS camcorder. Next to it, a tackle box filled with an array of paints, waxes, latex prosthetics and fake blood. I was one of those kids you could rely on having a surplus of Halloween supplies all year round.

I made short films, most of them were of the horror genre. They were terrible. One I can still remember was a serial killer revenge film called "Don't Mess with Les," about a kid who gets beat up by a gang of thugs and methodically gets even, one victim at a time. It was absolutely dreadful. But, it was  a great deal of fun to make, and I'd like to think that it helped make me who I am today.

And now, here we are.

Feels pretty damn good, and it's hard to believe the very kind words they've bestowed on our little film! 

Anyway, thanks for reading my rambling, it's been a long road putting together these 7 minutes, with roots that go all the way back to when I was a little fucked up teen. Check out the full article by clicking the image above or by clicking the link right here:

HUGE thanks go out to the cast and crew, who worked their asses off to make this happen. The Smiling Man is out in Film Festivals now, screening this weekend at 3 festivals in 3 different states (The Arizona Underground Film Festival, NOLA Horror Film Fest and Diabolique International Film Festival)! In October, we go even wider, as The Smiling Man screens in over 8 film festivals worldwide, with more announcements to come!

Horrible Imaginings Festival Wrap-up Podcast

Horrible Imaginings Festival Director Miguel Rodriguez has a fantastic podcast episode reflecting on the 6th Annual Horrible Imaginings Film Festival, held a couple of weeks ago at the Museum of Photographic Arts (MOPA) in San Diego.

Aside from being a great and insightful listen, they also mention The Smiling Man a couple of times and quote writer/director AJ Briones who talks about the amazing audience at the fest.

The Smiling Man was nominated for 4 awards at the Horrible Imaginings Film Festival (Best Cinematography, Best SFX, Best Director and Best Monster Show Short), taking home the Best Monster Show Short award and tying for second place for the Audience Award for Favorite Short Film.

Listen to the podcast episode by clicking the link here:


Film Review - The Smiling Man "will stick around in your head long after it's over."

We're thrilled to share Video Views' review of The Smiling Man, as it is extremely flattering, incredibly quotable and they gave us 5 out of 5 stars!

Here are some choice quotes:

"This is one of the creepiest and most disturbing films I have seen in some time, short film or feature film."

"...manages to be frightening without any cheap thrills."

"...will stick around in your head long after it is over."

"Abbi Chally is terrific as the little girl. The innocence and curiosity on her face which later turns into pure terror is priceless."

"Strange Dave is scary as hell"

We are super grateful to Video Views and their reviewer, Patrick Ricketts.

Check out the full review on their website here: