Main character suspended underwater

Night Swim

January 10, 2024
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Who thought a movie about a haunted pool would ever become a thing? Now, whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing is a different story.

Following Ray Waller (Wyatt Russell) and his wife Eve (Kerry Condon), daughter Izzy (Amelie Hoeferle), and son Elliot (Gavin Warren) as they try to start fresh after buying a new home to call their own, Night Swim takes the idea of a haunted house and supplants it for something unexpected and far more… watery. Recently forced to retire from baseball after an unfortunate illness ruined his career, Ray begins to use their new home’s in-ground pool for physical therapy to immediate and surprising results. Convinced there’s something special about the pool, Ray disregards his family’s fears that the pool isn’t helping but hurting them, as each of their interactions with it has been getting progressively more terrifying and unexplainable. Soon realizing something is lurking beneath the water, the Wallers must find a way to rid themselves of the evil entity’s influence or risk being pulled under themselves, never to surface again.

Doing a decent job starting things off with a slow burn story that develops its characters more than expected for a film like this (the casting of the always stellar Wyatt Russell undoubtedly helping in that respect), I honestly thought Night Swim was setting up for an interesting and creepy tale that would at the very least entertain while giving audiences a few stand-out water-based scares to enjoy. Succeeding only half the time, Night Swim does have some tense and effective moments that show the evil inhabiting the Waller’s pool as the dark and foreboding presence it is, with some downright clever filmmaking rewarding viewers for paying attention to each frame during these sequences. Throw in some chilling imagery and some well-paced and edited moments, and this movie was close to being better than I had hoped for… until it wasn’t.

For as silly as a haunted pool sounds, it’s not the idea that ends up derailing this film but the handling of a script that doesn’t know what to do with itself as it enters its back half, specifically during an off-the-rails third act that jumped the (pool) shark in more ways than one. Devolving into an uninspired and schlocky mess that ends up over-utilizing its shoddy special effects for scares that sour a lot of the great tension built up beforehand, it’s frustrating to see that Night Swim had something halfway decent going for it before its quality and storytelling dropped off the deep end, something that always seems to happen when a feature-length film is made based on a short film’s idea.

So although this movie wasn’t terrible right off the bat, its hard pivot from a more measured kind of tension to something overly supernatural tanked things in the worst way the longer the movie went on. And even if I didn’t outright hate this one, I was highly annoyed by it if only because the idea of a haunted pool — while seemingly a dumb premise on the surface — was actually a pretty good hook when executed properly, which to be fair, happened more than once. Too bad that by the end of it, Night Swim turned out to be exactly what most people would expect: disappointing and dumb.

Who thought a movie about a haunted pool would ever become a thing? Now, whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing is a different story. Following Ray Waller (Wyatt Russell) and his wife Eve (Kerry Condon), daughter Izzy (Amelie Hoeferle), and son Elliot (Gavin Warren) as they try to start fresh after buying a new home to call their own, Night Swim takes the idea of a haunted house and supplants it for something unexpected and far more... watery. Recently forced to retire from baseball after an unfortunate illness ruined his career, Ray begins to use their new home’s in-ground pool for physical therapy to immediate and surprising results. Convinced there's something special about the pool, Ray disregards his family’s fears that the pool isn’t helping but hurting them, as each of their interactions with it has been getting progressively more terrifying and unexplainable. Soon realizing something is lurking beneath the water, the Wallers must find a way to rid themselves of the evil entity's influence or risk being pulled under themselves, never to surface again. Doing a decent job starting things off with a slow burn story that develops its characters more than expected for a film like this (the casting of the always stellar Wyatt Russell undoubtedly helping in that respect), I honestly thought Night Swim was setting up for an interesting and creepy tale that would at the very least entertain while giving audiences a few stand-out water-based scares to enjoy. Succeeding only half the time, Night Swim does have some tense and effective moments that show the evil inhabiting the Waller’s pool as the dark and foreboding presence it is, with some downright clever filmmaking rewarding viewers for paying attention to each frame during these sequences. Throw in some chilling imagery and some well-paced and edited moments, and this movie was close to being better than I had hoped for… until it wasn’t. For as silly as a haunted pool sounds, it’s not the idea that ends up derailing this film but the handling of a script that doesn’t know what to do with itself as it enters its back half, specifically during an off-the-rails third act that jumped the (pool) shark in more ways than one. Devolving into an uninspired and schlocky mess that ends up over-utilizing its shoddy special effects for scares that sour a lot of the great tension built up beforehand, it’s frustrating to see that Night Swim had something halfway decent going for it before its quality and storytelling dropped off the deep end, something that always seems to happen when a feature-length film is made based on a short film’s idea. So although this movie wasn’t terrible right off the bat, its hard pivot from a more measured kind of tension to something overly supernatural tanked things in the worst way the longer the movie went on. And even if I didn’t outright hate this one, I was highly annoyed by it if only because the idea of a haunted pool — while seemingly a dumb…

6

A Soggy Swim

The Verdict

6

6

Brian is first and foremost a nerd in every way shape and form. He likes to compare himself to a black hole, consuming any and every form of entertainment unlucky enough to get caught in his gravitational pull. It's not uncommon on any given day for him to read a couple comics, settle down with a good book, watch a few movies (inside and out of the theater), catch up on his ever growing but never depleting Hulu queue, challenge himself with a few good video games, listen to any music he can get his hands on and, of course, write his heart out. He spends every waking moment dreaming up interesting and intriguing concepts and ideas that will hopefully one day inspire and entertain anyone looking for an escape from their daily lives. Graduating from Full Sail University in good old humid Florida, Brian currently lives and works in New York City and is waiting for the day when all he has to do is wake up and create something unique and new for people to enjoy. He is always in the process of writing scripts and stories and is constantly on the lookout for ways to enhance and build his creative drive. After all, life is just one big story, all that really matters is how you strive to make it the best story possible. Disclaimer: Brian does not actually have powdered green skin in case anyone was wondering. A Skrull I am not. Blame the guys at the Color Run for this one.

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