Friday, January 5, 2024

Night Swim

A few well-paced scare sequences never add up to more than what you've already guessed by the end. Made for the most forgiving horror fans, those with thalassophobia, or J-horror fans.

Rated PG-13 for terror, some violent content and language.

Night Swim

Being in the minority after a horror movie has ended is nothing new for me. With how many I watch, I’m basically an apologist and will sit through pretty much anything — especially Blumhouse horror movies. Considering their hit-to-miss ratio, their releases come either highly acclaimed or slammed. Once in a while, something middling comes along, that’s neither great, nor as bad as everyone else may think.

Such is the case with writer/director Bryce McGuire Night Swim. Adapting his own short film to feature length, it’s being advertised as a supernatural slasher movie with a pool as the killer. And while that may be sort of what it is, it’s actually more along the lines of Poltergeist by way of J-horror, with a dash of Amityville Horror thrown in as well. As a fan of J-horror, I didn’t mind, but ultimately, you’re really just getting what my friend coined: Pooltergeist. And that tells you all you need to know.

The Waller family is your everyday family. Except that dad Ray (Wyatt Russell) is a former Brewers baseball player forced into retirement after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. With his wife, Eve (Kerry Condon), and their two kids Izzy (Amélie Hoeferle) and Elliot (Gavin Warren), they finally find a house to settle down in and take care of Ray. Reason being the house has a swimming pool and Ray wants to take advantage of it for therapy.

Little do they know, the swimming pool has a dark side that starts slowly seeping into their lives. Soon enough, Ray seems magically healed, but starts acting off, along with the family cat going missing, and both kids having encounters with whatever lies lurking below the surface. Now, Eve must find a way to protect her family and break the curse wrought upon them.

Night Swim doesn’t exactly have any new ideas, and most of the suspense is in the shallow end, but McGuire at least tries to make a more moody outing than we’re used to from Blumhouse. It’s definitely more sink than swim. 

Puns aside, the cast all work great together and feel like a real family. And it wouldn’t be a horror movie without characters making dumb decisions. For the most part — within the movie’s universe at least — they make sense, for better and worse. The film never tries to be more than it is and for some of us, that may be just enough. Even if Russell has a line reading that will go down as one of the year’s most unintentionally hilarious.

3 out of 5

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