A little girl home alone comes face-to-face with pure evil.

The beauty of the short story is that it highlights a particular moment, without worrying too much about the hows and whys, but rather places us in the same shoes as the main protagonist when they are first faced with the dilemma or unpleasant surprise. But while AJ Briones’s ‘The Smiling Man’ is a surface suspense thriller, the message may be interpreted by your own ways due to its intended openness.

THE SMILING MAN for me was an exercise in tension building and whether we could use that to great effect to scare the crap out of audiences. I wanted to tell a story purely with visuals, so I wrote it without any dialogue. I like to work in allegory with all of my films, and THE SMILING MAN is about a woman’s introduction into the world of men, and how unfair and downright predatory that can be. It’s not meant to be overt, but those ideas are visually coded into the film. That said, it’s been really neat speaking to people at festivals who came away from watching it with their own meaning. It’s a vertical slice of a feature film that I hope to get the chance to work on someday!

There is nothing more terrifying than being a child alone in an empty house, with a monster lurking around. The Smiling Man takes all the essentials of the thriller to make our bones chill one frame at a time, climaxing to a brilliant character representation to freshen up our nightmares.