Smiley Face Killers

Movie review by
Brian Costello, Common Sense Media
Smiley Face Killers Movie Poster Image
Violent horror tale; gore, blood, drugs, and sex.
  • R
  • 2020
  • 96 minutes

Parents say

No reviews yetAdd your rating

Kids say

age 16+
Based on 3 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

No positive messages in gory horror movie about serial killings. 

Positive Role Models

While much of his behavior is not that of a role model, the lead character is shown struggling with mental illness, and shows the toll the struggle takes on his life and relationships. 


Gory, graphic horror violence. Killer strikes victim repeatedly with a hammer, face shown bloodied and beaten. Dead bodies wash ashore after characters shown getting kidnapped by unseen assailants in a white van. Gas station clerk shot and killed. Character taken prisoner in a van, tied up as his blood is being drained before he's stabbed in the throat and killed. On a farm, a lamb is shown getting its throat slit as it screams. A farmer comes out of his home to find a pig carcass cut open, its entrails exposed. Hatchet deaths. Car chase, ending in car explosion. Lead character gets into a fistfight at a party. 


College boyfriend and girlfriend shown trying to have sex. Later that night, they have audible sex in bed. Brief nudity, female breast. Lead character in the shower, male buttocks exposed. Lead character almost completely naked as he escapes from a van where assailants are trying to kill him. 


"F--k" used a few times. "S--t." 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Lead character and his fellow college student friends want to take "E" at a party; lead character forgets to bring it with him to the party, so his girlfriend goes back to his house to get it. Beer drinking in the backseat of a moving vehicle. Drinking at college parties. Talk of marijuana. Lead character wants to quit taking the meds he has been prescribed for his mental illness. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Smiley Face Killers is a 2020 horror movie in which a college student is being stalked by serial murderers. Expect gruesome and gory horror violence. Characters are stabbed in the throat, struck repeatedly in the skull with a hammer, shot and killed, chopped with a hatchet. There's also a scene in which a lamb is sliced open with a knife as it bleeds and screams. A farmer finds a pig cut open with exposed entrails. Between the gory beginning and end of the movie, the lead character is shown struggling with mental illness, while also going to parties with his friends who want to take "E" and binge drink. Lead character and his girlfriend try to have sex in one scene, then have sex in another scene -- brief female nudity (breasts). Brief male nudity (buttocks), of lead character in the shower. Lead character escapes from a van and runs into a gas station minimart almost completely naked, with a small piece of cloth strategically covering the groin area. Some profanity, including "f--k." 

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say

There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

Kid, 10 years old October 21, 2021

Fine for older teens who love a good slash fest

Good movie with lots of violence, gore; not for kids under 16 or 17.
Teen, 14 years old Written bysamaskrithisai April 1, 2021

What's the story?

In SMILEY FACE KILLERS, Jake (Ronen Rubinstein) is a college student who plays on the soccer team and enjoys riding his bike and hanging out with his girlfriend Keren (Mia Serafino). He's also struggling with mental illness, and has stopped going to therapy, and wants to quit taking his meds, even as his struggles are putting a strain on his relationships and friendships. One day, he begins receiving a series of creepy texts from an unknown sender. He tries to ignore the texts while he reluctantly agrees to go to a beach party with Keren and their friends, but he soon begins to suspect that the texts are being sent by Keren's ex-boyfriend. Meanwhile, unknown to him, Jake is being followed by unknown stalkers in a white van. A mysterious hooded figure (Crispin Glover) lurks inside his house, waiting to strike. After going to a party to confront Keren's ex-girlfriend about the texts, Jake soon realizes who's really behind it, and after the assailants in the white van snatch him off his bike, he must find a way to escape the torture and death that has ended the lives of many college males before him. 

Is it any good?

While it has its fair share of suspense and utterly creepy moments, Smiley Face Killers gets bogged down by too much collegiate drama. After a succession of animal cruelty, mysterious kidnappings, and dead bodies washing ashore, the movie settles in to following the routine of the lead character, Jake, who likes to ride his bike around campus, play soccer, and hang out with his girlfriend. He's also struggling with mental illness, and it puts a strain on his ability to be a good boyfriend, loyal friend, and dedicated soccer player. The movie goes to great lengths to establish all of this, even with the ever-present threat of smartphone ringtone jump scares, and a disturbing saggy-mouthed Crispin Glover lurking in the darkness of Jake's apartment with a hammer. The college routines and drama go on a little too long, and while the movie makes an earnest attempt to convey Jake's struggles with mental illness, this story thread also goes on a little too long, especially since the movie is ostensibly supposed to be about serial murderers. 

The movie was written by Bret Easton Ellis, and directed by Tim Hunter, who was involved in two classics of teens run amok -- Over the Edge and River's Edge. Perhaps one of the problems of trying to realistically convey 21st century youth is that it requires smartphones, and smartphones aren't really that interesting on-screen, as opposed to direct action. The third act delivers on what's hinted at in the film's first few minutes, even if the denouement comes across as cheesy as a true-crime Lifetime movie. This payoff of the third act is there and appropriately bizarre, but this payoff doesn't entirely justify the slow journey to get there. Of course, it's common to build suspense in horror movies, with jump scares and near-death building up to the proverbial bloody third act, but the middle here most often feels less like a build-up of suspense and more like hanging out with college students on a seemingly uneventful weekday afternoon. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how this movie was "inspired by true events." This movie is based on a theory, widely discredited, that the drowning deaths of dozens of male college students was due to serial killers rather than what is believed by the FBI, among others, to be due to drowning death after excessive alcohol consumption. Does the "inspired by true events" disclaimer at the beginning seem legitimate, or does it seem more like a way to heighten the scares to follow? 

  • How does the movie convey mental illness? Does it seem realistic, or does it seem like more of a way to heighten the suspense of the movie? 

  • Why do people find entertainment from gory horror movies? How much is too much

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love horror

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