Night Swim

January 5, 202430/1006 min
Starring
Wyatt Russell, Kerry Condon. Amélie Hoeferle
Written by
Bryce McGuire ( screenplay/ screen story by/ based on the short film by), Rob Blackhurst ( screen story by/ based on the short film by)
Directed by
Bryce McGuire
Run Time
1h 35min
Release Date
January 5th, 2024
Overall Score
Rating Summary

Growing up, all I ever wanted was a pool in my backyard. Sadly, I never realized that dream. But for some of my early life, we had a neighbor who let us use their pool whenever. Those days were filled with all kinds of fun, but pools are not always games of Marco Polo and contests of how long you can hold your breath. But can a pool have a darkness to them? Well the movie Night Swim explores one of those dark places, or at least tries to.

Ray Waller (Wyatt Russell) was once a pretty good major league ball player, but a disease has taken away his ability to play the game. So, he and his wife Eve (Kerry Condon) try to find a place for him to rehabilitate, and for their children Izzy (Amélle Hoeferie) and Elliot (Gavin Warren) to find some stability. The plan was to rent at first, but sometimes you find a house that calls your name, and for the Wallers, they found it, and it has a pool, a perfect place to raise a family. Ray and Eve buy the house, as they have been told that water therapy can help in Ray’s recovery. At first, everything is dandy, but strange things start to happen around the pool. At first, it’s seeing things and hearing voices, but soon the cat is missing, and Elliot has an encounter that shakes him pretty good. It seems there is a story to this pool, and it doesn’t have a happy ending for everyone involved. Eve is able to track down one of the previous owners of the house, and things she learns make her want to save her family and leave that house as fast as she can.

Written by Bryce McGuire, from a short film he and Rob Blackhurst did in 2014, Night Swim never seems to get out of the shallow end. It starts with a flashback, which is 30 years ago, where we see a little girl get tempted to the pool by a toy, and it ultimately gets her. Fast forward to the Wallers, and they fall in love with the house with the murder pool, but of course, that info isn’t divulged to them. For most of the film, the pool is more bark than bite, and by the time things get bad, the writers send Eve on an info gathering trip, where the explanation to what is happening is less than satisfying.

I thought everything was set up for a cheesy but fun time, but too often there is no payoff to anything that is set up. What I did like was both Russell and Condon, who are both good, as well as the idea that nothing good happens for free. When you add the idea of sacrifice at the core of the story, as well as the potential benefits of the water, it does make you weigh things. Instead, you get something that feels undercooked, and a lot more could have been done with this idea. Night Swim even hits the sweet spot with its runtime, but all those shots of staring at an unmoving body of water make it feel longer than its 98-minute run time. I think Night Swim could have delved more into the deep murky water, but unfortunately, it barely sticks its toe in.

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