Night Swim Review: A Surprisingly Fun and Engaging Aquatic Horror

Night Swim (2024).
Night Swim offers an immersive dive into the deep end of suburban horror, drawing its dread from the supposedly serene family pool turned terror trough. Director Bryce McGuire makes his feature film debut with this creepy concoction, expanding his 2014 short film of the same name into a slow-burn supernatural horror show that skillfully threads elements of suburban disquiet, parental desperation, and aquatic phobia.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pcSNqteCEtE

The Good:

The film initially impresses with its ordinary family setting. Wyatt Russell as ex-baseballer Ray Waller nails his role, infusing his performance with enough character depth and backstory to flesh out the proceedings. Russell strikes a genuine, heartfelt portrayal of a family man struggling to adjust to early retirement due to a mystery illness.
Kerry Condon as Eve, the concerned matriarch, steals many scenes with her determination and resilient grit as she uncovers the dark secret their new house holds. The emotional anchor she provides is complemented by the raw energy that Amélie Hoeferle (Izzy) and Gavin Warren (Elliot) bring into play as the threatened siblings. Jodi Long‘s haunted, tragic Kay delivers the needed exposition without weighing down the plot.
The plot progression, despite being a tad formulaic, unveils in intriguing bits. The story benefits from McGuire’s exploration of elemental and primal fears, based around a swimming pool, morphing a typical suburban scene into an uncanny territory of dread. The drowning scene will raise hair, a crazy event that warps the pool from recreational respite to water terror zone. Yet, there are plot moments that descend into an overdose of typicality, somewhat dampening the overall tension and feel.

The Bad:

Unfortunately, the entity lacks substantial definition to stand on par with classic supernatural enemies. The audience is often left thirsting for more clues about the sinister spirit haunting the pool. It is seen as being a life force needing sacrifice.
The third act unravels hurriedly, juxtaposing moments of intense horror with poignant familial love and sacrifice. Some viewers might find this approach discordant, an awkward clash of emotions instead of an intense climax.

Overall:

Visually, McGuire nails it. The haunting cinematography manages to portray suburbia as an isolated microcosm, underscored by a near-constant presence of the pool. From mirror-like stillness to ominous ripples, the water helps maintain an uneasy ambiance.
Night Swim dives deep into aquatic terror. It unveils a sub-genre of horror which keeps afloat on a pool of human emotion. The concept, while solid, unfortunately slips up in execution and the scare-factor can feel somewhat watered down. A notable debut for director Bryce McGuire, the film promises great potential if not a full scare package.
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Night Swim Review
  • Acting - 8/10
    8/10
  • Cinematography/Visual Effects - 8/10
    8/10
  • Plot/Screenplay - 7/10
    7/10
  • Setting/Theme - 7/10
    7/10
  • Watchability - 8/10
    8/10
  • Rewatchability - 7/10
    7/10
Overall
7.5/10
7.5/10
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About Caillou Pettis

Caillou Pettis is a professional film critic and journalist as well as the author of While You Sleep, The Inspiring World of Horror: The Movies That Influenced Generations, and co-author of Out of Time: True Paranormal Encounters. He has been writing in the entertainment industry for over seven and a half years professionally. Throughout the years, he has written articles for publications including Gold Derby, Exclaim!, CBR, Awards Radar, Awards Watch, Flickering Myth, BRWC, Starburst Magazine, Punch Drunk Critics, Mediaversity Reviews, Vinyl Chapters, Northern Transmissions, and Beats Per Minute.