Sometimes a smile isn’t always so warm.
Paramount Pictures brings a new kind of horror where dealing with your traumas can be scarier than you think. The film follows Dr. Rose Cotter (Bacon lookalike), who begins to experience frightening events that she cannot explain after witnessing a patient commit suicide after being possessed. As terror begins to invade her life, Rose must confront her troubling past to survive and escape her terrifying new reality.
BET.com got to have a chat with the co-star Jesse T. Usher (Survivor’s remorse, boys) about the film and how the horror genre “expands” with more “grounded” storytelling.
BET.com: This movie is another kind of horror movie where you have to deal with your traumas and will do the opposite of making you smile; What prompted you to participate in the film?
Jesse: I thought the point of view was the most exciting thing – we get to see a character whose area of expertise is what they’re going through. Naturally, people who aren’t psychologists would look at a psychologist and say they should be able to deal with mental health better than they are since that’s what they’ve studied. I thought a character in his position could do better, and it was nice to see a more realistic approach. It doesn’t matter how many books you read or how many patients you’ve treated – when something like this starts happening to you, you probably won’t know how to handle it personally. She’s a psychologist, but having her therapists call her immediately stigmatizes her so she doesn’t think she’s crazy or that I don’t need to talk to a therapist. The tables have turned because she’s a therapist, and now people are saying that about you. I thought that was genius.
BET.com: How do you think horror movies have evolved over time, and what other paths would you like to see horror movies take?
Jesse: While I may not be the biggest fan of horror movies, I feel like this genre is becoming more entrenched and expanding with new stories like get out Where Smile. These films take on a psychological aspect and show viewers how something so natural can be so horrible, which is what I’m most interested in. I would love to see more horror films address mental health issues or childhood trauma.
BET.com: As you look back on your career and continue to soar, what makes you smile throughout your journey?
Jesse: I didn’t realize it when I was younger, but what kept me going was becoming addicted to the out-of-body experience when you’re really in the moment. It all started when I was younger in the theatre, and with the adrenaline I felt and the energy from the audience, you almost forget the performance is happening. You try to find those moments on camera, but it’s hard because it’s so complex and technical. Whatever happens on screen you may not remember, but it feels good. I would say it’s the feeling that makes me smile — I can have a unique experience working in front of the camera, but once I leave, the feeling I’ve described will return.
BET.com: If you could participate in a horror movie with any actor, who would you call to ask to participate in putting a “smile” on your face?
Jesse: Wow, what a question [haha]. I would say Samuel L. Jackson because I really enjoyed working with him on Tree and I feel like he has a way of staying grounded in weird storylines. I wish I knew what it would be like to star opposite him in a horror movie. His professionalism and dedication to his characters is top notch.
BET.com: What is your favorite horror film of all time and why?
Jesse: My favorite horror movie of all time is the ring. It was the first film that scared me — the idea of The Exorcist was also scary. Looking at the ring, it puts fear in your living room because you think that horrible girl is going to crawl across the screen, and it feels personal. This movie takes the cake.
Be sure to hit the cinema all smiles with your friends and see the newest horror movie Smile in theaters Friday, September 30.
*This interview has been edited for length and clarity
Ty Cole is a New York-based entertainment journalist and writer for BET.com covering pop culture, music and lifestyle. Follow his latest thoughts on Twitter @IamTyCole.