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The Truckee Times

The Student News Site of Truckee High School

The Truckee Times


Big News, Small Town


A Subversion Of Expectations
From Fandom
Cristobal Tapia de Veer

Smile is a film that revels in the way the audience squirms. It triggers a primal sense of fear and a devilish fight or flight response, preying on the insecurities the unknown creates. And while the film is a paranoia carnival, it isn’t truly accredited to the directors, however much the visuals stimulate.

That credit goes towards Mr. Juan Cristobal Tapia De Veer, a Chilean-born composer with a spark of genius.

Cristobal rose to fame with a niche British drama by the name of Utopia, in which he composed the soundtrack. He immediately gained notoriety due to his unique approach and method. After the relatively small success of Utopia, Cristobal moved on to greater heights, making the soundtrack for the book-turned-movie The Girl with All the Gifts, a somber horror flick. Smile is his latest work.

What makes his work so intriguing is the adoption of human-like elements. His way of mixing, chopping, and altering something as simple as a human voice into a full-fledged song is astounding. 

For the dramatic and tragic moments of Utopia, a theme is composed of an erratic drumline combined with bated breath. Cristobal draws inspiration from soundtracks to other films such as Requiem For A Dream, which is famously praised for this style of meditative chaos.

Sounds will zip by in a zany manner or drone on, replicating emotion into a palpable tune. Cristobal manages to relay imagery to sound in a simplistic yet stupefying way. One could only imagine what fear could sound like in one of Cristobal’s songs until now.

While most of Cristobal Tapia De Veer’s works are hard to come by, they are increasingly amazing.

The result is petrifying.

Cristobal’s iconic use of the human voice is evident throughout the film. The opening defining scene begins with the song “Laura Smile”, a composition that draws back the metaphorical curtains with a looping sound trapped under something, it seems. The churning noise opens and becomes a clicking, swirling moan of fear. Rose, the main protagonist, and therapist, consults a paranoid patient, Laura.

As Laura becomes more erratic and eventually succumbs to an unknown force, the noises grind to a halt and become a slowly enveloping whimper, encapsulating Rose within the same box that muffled the sounds of terror beforehand.

The story of Smile is a dark loop, a curse or rather entity that follows the loop from victim to victim, slowly preying on each one’s worst fears. At its core, the story is about our human susceptibility to traumatic experiences, and how that grief can come back to haunt us later in life. Cristobal uses this story as an advantage, opening up scenes with choruses of gasps and emanating digital feedback. The paranoia this story lives in is captured masterfully by Cristobal, and as the story continues, this fact is only amplified.

Rose finds herself slowly losing composure, and any remaining normalcy in her life is almost strangled by Cristobal.

The finale draws to a close like a musical, this visceral imagery is combined with Cristobal Tapia De Veer’s resounding tandem of musical joy and human terror, a B note combined with the screams of many that have fallen to the entity before.

It comes to the screen as this joyous moment, a victory song for the team you don’t want to win.

Smile is a film not immune to error, yet was made an indisputable classic due to the soundtrack. While most of Cristobal Tapia De Veer’s works are hard to come by, they are increasingly amazing, so keep a lookout for any works in the future, Because while his works can bring someone to tears or to dread, he never fails to put a smile on the audience’s faces.

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About the Contributor
Ciaran Phillips, Staff Reporter
Ciaran is a freshman at Truckee High School. As this is his first year going into Journalism, he strives for stories that include film, music, reading, or anything that contains creativity. In terms of the school, he also enjoys writing on things like history and comparison; topics related to how the school has changed, or what we should be looking forward to. This year Ciaran would like to work on more simplistic journalism writing and honing in those skills. Outside of school Ciaran enjoys playing Tennis and sleeping.

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