New York baseball fans were feeling good heading into Friday night. The Mets were looking to clobber the extremely sad Oakland A’s. The Yankees clinched a playoff spot Thursday, and fans tuned into the game hoping to see Aaron Judge blast record home run #61.

What fans got, when they turned on their TVs, was a surprise scare that only got creepier as the night went on. Some called it demonic, some called it genius, but it had everybody wondering “what the !#$% is going on??”

Smile Like You Mean It

It started at the Mets/A’s game. People took to social media after the camera picked up an unmoving, unblinking, unnerving smiling woman in a neon green shirt with the word “SMILE” in all-caps right behind home plate. Then at the Yankees game an unflinching man with the same stomach-churning grin was spotted in a neon blue shirt. At one point, he was standing menacingly and staring directly into the pitch camera. He didn’t even flinch on wild pitches.

Then another smiler was spotted at the Cardinals/Dodgers game. And another remembered the scare they got while watching the Today Show. There were so many questions. Is this some new cult? The end of days? After pooling their collective brain power, it seems like fans have figured out the mystery.

Don Draper Level Demons

A promo for the horror movie Smile

This all appears to be a marketing stunt by Paramount for the new horror movie Smile, in which seeing this demented grin supposedly marks you for death. Of course, this opened new questions. How do you hold a smile like that for a 3+ hour game? Did they have prosthetics? Were they really CGI? Some have speculated that the actors were even wearing tinted contact lenses because they wouldn’t flinch or react.

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Smile is far from the first guerilla marketing campaign to take advantage of primo seats at top-ticket sporting events, but it has done it in maybe the most unsettling way. More than anyone holding a smile for that long, you have to feel sorry for the people that nabbed behind-the-plate seats just for some demon to stand in front and block their view.

The viral marketing has definitely got people talking and asking questions. The smilers look almost exactly like the deadly harbingers from the movie’s previews. (Fair warning, the trailer is somehow even freakier than the demons in the stands.)

Of course, Paramount is doing the creepiest thing and not admitting any involvement in this. Smile is in theaters this weekend, so beware – more unexpected smilers could be coming to a screen near you for the release.

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