thu 18/07/2024

Night Swim review - hardly immersive horror flick | reviews, news & interviews

Night Swim review - hardly immersive horror flick

Night Swim review - hardly immersive horror flick

Tepid tale of a haunted swimming pool

In too deep: Kerry Condon in 'Night Swim’

The water is wild in Night Swim, the weirdly wet horror debut from director Bryce McGuire, in which a backyard bathing pool becomes the locus of all things supernatural.

For a while, this mild, many-angled shocker, produced by horror impresarios James Wan and Jason Blum, seems to emerge from the same wellspring that spawned Insidious, Sinister, and The Conjuring. But unlike those deliciously scary tales of grieving families and ghostly invaders, Night Swim paddles in circles around inchoate human fears rather than diving furiously into a vortex of terror.

Maybe that’s because the film is an expanded version of a horror short of the same name: the feature-length Night Swim functions as a checklist of strong ideas, starting with an outstanding cast, led by Academy Award nominee Kerry Condon as a midwestern American matriarch steering her rootless family toward a new home in a new town.

Her husband, a onetime baseball star named Ray Waller (Wyatt Russell, pictured below with Condon), is recovering from serious illness – a plight made more painful when everybody he meets prattles on about him “getting back in the game".

Russell, who really was a professional athlete (ice hockey) before becoming a performer, embodies both a sportsman’s hulking grace and a certain social ineptitude, even menace. At a youth baseball clinic, Ray’s coaching style – hectoring and playful – inspires older boys but crushes his frail, timid son (Gavin Warren).

Condon (The Banshees of Inisherin) has a tougher assignment as the protective mother who senses, against all reason, that there’s a monster living beneath the backyard. By the time she corners a chatty estate agent into admitting that the house’s previous owners perhaps “weren’t pool people", she looks ready to bulldoze the property.

There’s guilt in her eyes for she, too, has fallen for its siren song. Despite Night Swim’s disappointing failure to thrill, the water remains an attraction. Cinematographer Charlie Sarroff finds endless ways to make the half-sunny, half-shaded pool shimmer with dangerous allure. As characters venture farther beneath the surface, sound and image become distorted, almost alive. But in the end, a cool forbidden dip in this drowning pool isn’t worth the effort.

It paddles in circles around inchoate human fears rather than diving furiously into a vortex of terror

rating

Editor Rating: 
3
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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