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  • Writer's pictureStephen Yanni

Night Swim (2024) - From Laps to Traps: A Haunting Poolside Story

Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3/5 stars)

Released 01-05-2024

Watched 01-06-2024

Reviewed 01-11-2024

Watched in the theater Using Cinemark Movie Club

"I know something scared you last night. I saw how you looked when you got out of the pool."

"Night Swim", sets out to blend emotional drama with supernatural terror. The film stars Wyatt Russell as Ray Waller, a former baseball player forced into early retirement due to a degenerative illness. Alongside Russell, Kerry Condon portrays Ray's supportive yet emotionally strained wife, and Amélie Hoeferle and another young actor play their children, bringing a youthful energy to the screen. The plot hinges on the Waller family's move to a new house, ostensibly to start afresh and utilize the backyard swimming pool for both Ray's physical therapy and family fun. However, this idyllic setup soon takes a dark turn as the film introduces a malevolent force linked to the house's murky past.

The premise of "Night Swim" is undeniably intriguing. It promises a blend of familial struggles with the supernatural, a concoction that has proved successful in numerous horror classics. However, the film struggles to fully realize its potential. While it does an admirable job of establishing Ray's battle with his illness and the family's dynamics, the supernatural elements fall somewhat flat. Despite its attempts to be creepy, the film doesn't truly venture into terrifying territory. The horror relies heavily on jump scares, which, while effective in places, do not compensate for the lack of a deeply unsettling atmosphere or a more intricately woven plot of terror.

Russell's portrayal of a man grappling with his declining health and changing family dynamics is commendable. His performance, along with Condon's, anchors the film in a relatable reality, making the supernatural invasion into their lives more jarring. However, the script doesn't leverage this strong foundation to build a truly compelling horror narrative. The supernatural antagonist, while conceptually interesting, doesn't break new ground in the genre. The backstory of the house and the nature of the malevolent force lack the depth and detail that could have elevated the film.

In terms of production, "Night Swim" showcases competent cinematography and sound design. The scenes involving the swimming pool, in particular, are shot with a lingering sense of dread. However, these technical merits are not enough to make up for the story's shortcomings.

For fans of supernatural horror, "Night Swim" might offer some enjoyable moments, especially with its strong lead performances and the initial setup of an interesting premise. However, for those seeking a deeply terrifying or groundbreaking horror experience, the film may disappoint. It's a decent watch for a casual night in, but it's not a must-see theatrical experience. "Night Swim" ends up being a middle-of-the-road horror film – not completely forgettable, but not particularly memorable either.

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