Review: Night Swim
Everything You Fear Is Under The Surface
This is a quick review of the newly released film Night Swim. Keep in mind this is but one of the many movies I watch every year, and that whatever initial grade I come up for this film could change for better or worse with time. To better keep up to date with both my thoughts on other movies and if my feelings on this film changed, follow me on Letterboxd.
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Via Letterboxd: Forced into early retirement by a degenerative illness, former baseball player Ray Waller moves into a new house with his wife and two children. He hopes that the backyard swimming pool will be fun for the kids and provide physical therapy for himself. However, a dark secret from the home’s past soon unleashes a malevolent force that drags the family into the depths of inescapable terror.
Almost every movie year kicks off with a mediocre, very forgettable horror flick. These days that usually comes in the form of a Blumhouse feature. Last year however a miracle occurred when 2023 was kicked off by M3GAN, a film that ended up finishing just five spots from making my annual Top 25 list and which was nominated by some critics groups (Including one I belong to) for Best Horror Film. It gave me hope that we could kick off more movie years with decent to great horror flicks.
So I did have little hope in me that my first formal written review of the year for a new Blumhouse horror flick could be another pleasant surprise. With 2023 films still being talked to death and a stagnant Best Picture race, I was hoping to get an escape from all that. Unfortunately Night Swim has announced to us that mediocre January horror is back baby.
I wonder how a movie about a haunted pool gets green-lit to be a feature and not a short. I also wonder how such a movie is able to land Wyatt Russel (Just in time for his turn in the well-reviewed Monarch: Legacy Of Monsters TV series) and Kerry Condon (Just fresh off her Oscar nominated and BAFTA winning role in The Banshees Of Inisherin). And I sure as Hell wonder how they decided this being more than 80 minutes was a good idea if they were gonna’ dare to attempt it with a movie about a freaking haunted pool.
I’ve seen other colleagues slam the acting in this but I actually think the acting is somewhat respectable given the crappy material Russel and Condon have to deal with here. The writing on the other hand really sinks this movie (Yes that was an intended pun) with derivative storytelling horror tropes, lazy and overused jump scares, mediocre dialogue, an ending that had me rolling my eyes. And that’s before we talk about the wonky VFX work, and the lulls in the middle where the movie just keeps repeating the same anticipatory scares with all the characters. And you know a horror film isn’t working when literally no one at my screening reacted to any of the scares.
Unfortunately Night Swim kicks off 2024 with a whimper. The most interesting thing about it isn’t the attempt at lore building or the scares or event he characters, but how impressed I was with Condon’s American accent. My initial grade for this crap start to 2024 in film is a lowly C-. Thankfully I’m confident we’ll get many better movies than this one as the year progresses.