Night Swim Review

In 2014 Rod Blackhurst and Bryce McGuire released a short film called Night Swim that showed a young woman swimming in her pool. The short lasts about 4 minutes and scares you by showing how helpless you are in a pool when there is no one around. If you have a moment search for the short and watch it before or after watching the feature-length version of it. Now while the short kept your heart racing, this longer version felt like it got tired of staying afloat halfway through and just sank to the bottom.

Night Swim tells the story of Ray Waller, played by Wyatt Russell, who was a professional baseball player but had to leave the game due to having MS. We see the family looking at homes to buy and the home they are looking at feels too much like a hospital for Ray and they decide to keep looking. When driving through the neighborhood they come across a home that seems perfect for them. The home comes with a pool that has a sinister past that we see a little of at the beginning.

Allow me to go on a brief tangent right now, we find out about the pool’s sinister history 3 quarters of the way into the movie. We are given a story as to why the pool does what it does and this information could have been helpful in the beginning of the movie. It is also strange how the person who gives us the history of the pool knows all of this information. How did they find out? Who did they talk to about the pool? Maybe there was an intro filmed that explained the mystery of the pool and was cut but I would think that would have helped in showing us how they know all this information about the pool’s past. Tangent over!

Amélie Hoeferle as Izzy Waller in Night Swim, written and directed by Bryce McGuire. © 2023 Universal Studios. All Rights Reserved.

While looking at the new home with the pool Ray falls in while trying to grab a baseball. In the water, Ray sees himself with better health and playing baseball again. It turns out that the water in the pool not only can grant the wish of a person but also requires a sacrifice for the wish to come true. As Ray uses the pool for therapy, he is slowly getting possessed by the water. This whole “Father getting passed by the house” reminded me of the Amityville Horror movies and I was just waiting for the moment the father turns on the family. Yes, we have seen this scenario before but Wyatt Russell plays it in such a straight way that it is really creepy seeing him go from nice dad to possessed dad.

Speaking of the possessed, the souls of those stuck in the pool look pretty cool. Some of them look bloated and decomposed like they have been in the water for years while others look like they just drowned. The cinematography during the swimming scenes are claustrophobic at times and really pull you in the deep of the pool. There was a moment that was reminiscent of a shot from Paranormal Activity 3 involving an oscillating fan. As the mother, Eve, played by Oscar® nominee Kerry Condon, is swimming the camera goes into her side-to-side point of view. As she swims we see one side of the pool, then the bottom of the pool, and then the other side of the pool. This happens for a few seconds but the anticipation builds up as to what is going to be there the next time she stares at the side of the pool.

(from left) Izzy Waller (Amélie Hoeferle), Elliot Waller (Gavin Warren), Ray Waller (Wyatt Russell) and Eve Waller (Kerry Condon) in Night Swim, written and directed by Bryce McGuire.

There are more interesting moments in the movie involving the son Elliott’s baseball practice, a night swim with the daughter, Izzy played by Amélie Hoeferle, that we have seen in the trailers, and a strange game of chicken during the family pool party. Night Swim felt like it paddled along and kept its strength for the final fifteen minutes where things got a little exciting but the pay off was a bellyflop. Yes, there seems to be more questions raised than answers given but maybe there we will get those answers in a prequel about the pool.

Final Thoughts: As much as Night Swim is a good twist on the haunted house trope it does sink in giving us a good scary movie. The Waller family move into an unsuspecting house as dad, Ray Waller, played by Wyatt Russell, is in the early stages of MS. Using the pool for therapy they unwittingly tempt unknown forces that reside within the waters. Some good moments are scary but at times it feels like the idea of stretching out the original short just sinks at the bottom. Night Swim might have been affected by the writer’s block because there are a few plot holes and dialogue that seem out of place. Night Swim will make you think twice about swimming alone in a pool.

Kid-Friendly: The film is rated PG-13 so it does not get too gory. Some bloated bodies appear underwater and they might be too gruesome for younger kids. There are a few bad words said throughout the movie. The movie will show kids that you should not go swimming alone and if something grabs you in the water, get out immediately and don’t stay in the water.

Violence: The violence in Night Swim is pretty tame. There is a scene that involves broken glass that made me jump in my seat. It was set up so you knew something was going to happen with it but when it happened I still jumped. During the last few minutes, we do see one character being violent with another and later this character gets back at them by using a baseball bat.

Based on the acclaimed 2014 short film by Rod Blackhurst and Bryce McGuire, the film stars Wyatt Russell (The Falcon and the Winter Soldier) as Ray Waller, a former major league baseball player forced into early retirement by a degenerative illness, who moves into a new home with his concerned wife Eve (Oscar® nominee Kerry Condon, The Banshees of Inisherin), teenage daughter Izzy (Amélie Hoeferle, this fall’s The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes) and young son Elliot (Gavin Warren, Fear the Walking Dead).

Secretly hoping, against the odds, to return to pro ball, Ray persuades Eve that the new home’s shimmering backyard swimming pool will be fun for the kids and provide physical therapy for him. But a dark secret in the home’s past will unleash a malevolent force that will drag the family under, into the depths of inescapable terror.

Night Swim is written and directed by Bryce McGuire (writer of the upcoming film Baghead) and is produced by James Wan, the filmmaker behind the Saw, Insidious and The Conjuring franchises, and Jason Blum, the producer of the Halloween films, The Black Phone and The Invisible Man. The film is executive produced by Michael Clear and Judson Scott for Wan’s Atomic Monster and by Ryan Turek for Blum’s Blumhouse.

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