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Night Swim (2024) Full Review

When you think of January, people often think of this month as a new start to a fresh year. Usually for movies, its the month where the "unwanted" movies get their release dates. There however been several exceptions to this. We have seen some amazing movies release during the month of January. So the question is, did Night Swim give us a surprise and start the year off with a bang. Unfortunately Night Swim, directed by Bryce McGuire, feels more like a cold plunge into freezing waters. Which unfortunately became part of this January curse. With Wyatt Russell (Overlord) and Kerry Condon (The Banshees of Inshrine), as your leads, the movie does't lack with talent. We have some great cast choices that should have delivered something great. The thing that mostly holds the movie back, is its lack of story and script. No matter how great the cast is, the movie is weighed down to make you sink into this January curse. Making a movie about a haunted pool is a difficult task and credit to the writer and director getting that part down. The lack of rich dialogue and lore, is what makes this water stay in the shallow end for its structure and delivers us an unfortunate forgetful story. No matter how much this movie tried, it just never grabs you into the idea they are trying to sell.

Night Swim offers a chilling experience with its well-crafted sound design that adds to the suspense. By far the strongest aspect of the movie is this sound design. Every sequence in the pool, sounds incredible. While the acting is satisfactory, the scares mostly come from the pool sequences and the tension of the camera not seeing the threat and having the characters hear it. The movie plays on this structure really well for the first half of the movie. Thanks to creative and suspenseful execution, the pool scenes feel original and not repetitive. Unfortunately, the dialogue lacks substance, leaving the characters somewhat unremarkable. The minimal exploration of the lore, may leave viewers wanting more depth and beg for more answers. We get some insight of why the pool is haunted and the rules of how it works. Once I found out why the events are happening, it just made no sense or just lacked creativity. There is a huge amount of disbelief in it. If the history of the water was explored more, it may have set up the events with a stronger foundation, than what it had. We just get a quick breakdown with an unfamiliar character, that is connected to the opening scene, but has no real purpose. She's just there to give exposition and nothing more. Which that character's story seemed a bit more interesting than the one we received we she tells us about her life.

Performance from Wyatt Russel is what really held this movie together and carried a lot of the weight of the script. He couldn't save all of the scenes, as he had to deal with some cringe driven lines from the script. Especially a scene where he tries to find his daughter in their garage in the third act. This scene in itself was clunky and driven by poor written dialogue. I do give praise to his backstory for his character a ton though. He without a doubt had the best character arc as well. Seeing what he is dealing with made me really care about his character and his dreams. Themes of balancing life with your loved ones and following your passion has always had a hook on me. People have to make sacrifices with either losing the ones they have or give up on their own personal dreams. La La Land conveys this message very well and is the closest comparison. Which I would have never thought that a haunted pool movie would remind me of La La Land, but it does. This is the part of the story that has meaning and a way for the audience to connect with. They should have leaned more heavy on this aspect.

A quick overview for Night Swim is that the movie sadly did not live to my expectations of what it could be. It is based off a short film that can be found on YouTube, which is excellent. I do think a movie about a haunted pool works better as a short and not a full feature, but it could have worked better with a decent foundation. I do applaud them for making a full feature possible and keep each pool sequence entertaining and different. They were able to keep the scares coming, without making it repetitive. The performances were fine, but I wish I could connect and care more about these characters on screen. The lore and history of the pool was poorly crafted and I wished the water had truly more depth to its story. We merely just get a glimpse. January, again, proves to be the month where not the best movies get dumped in. I'm not mad that I watched it, but would not dive into these waters again.

Rating: 46/100


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