Movie Review – Night Swim: A Soggy Start to 2024 Horror Scene

Blumhouse Productions, known for its unique brand of horror, has dipped its toes into murky waters with its latest offering, “Night Swim.” The film, which occupies the early January slot previously graced by the cult hit “M3GAN,” promised to start 2024 with a splash in the horror genre. However, it seems that “Night Swim,” despite its interesting premise of a man-eating pool, floats closer to the shallow end of cinematic achievements.

Director Bryce McGuire, expanding upon his short film, attempts to infuse suburban banality with an ancient evil lurking beneath. A concept reminiscent of the works of Stephen King and David Lynch, it initially sets a foreboding tone. Yet, as the film progresses, its execution wades into less impressive territory. The story revolves around the Waller family, who move into a house with a mysterious pool. The father, Ray Waller (Wyatt Russell), a former baseball player with a recent MS diagnosis, and his wife, Eve (Kerry Condon), hope for a fresh start. Their children, Izzy and Elliot, navigate their own adolescent challenges, unaware of the lurking danger.

“Night Swim” starts with promise, utilizing eerie sound design and clever camera angles to build tension. The early scenes, where distorted underwater perspectives are used to unsettle viewers, are effective. However, the film quickly becomes waterlogged with an over-reliance on clichéd jump scares. The suspense, initially well-crafted, begins to dissipate, revealing the film’s shallow narrative depth.

A significant letdown comes from the revelation of the source of terror. Instead of maintaining a sense of mystery, “Night Swim” opts for a bizarre and comedic reveal, undermining its own horror premise. While the film features some amusing performances, particularly from Nancy Lenehan as a cheery real estate agent and Ben Sinclair as an eccentric pool technician, these moments of levity feel like desperate gasps for air in an otherwise suffocating plot.

Russell’s performance, while earnest, struggles against the script’s tide. His character, meant to be the emotional anchor, is adrift in a sea of absurdity. The film’s attempt to blend horror with dark comedy results in a tonal imbalance, leaving the audience unsure whether to scream or laugh – often opting for the latter at unintended moments.

“Night Swim” also misses an opportunity to delve deeper into its characters’ psyche. The family’s dynamics and individual struggles could have added depth to the narrative, but these elements are as underdeveloped as the pool’s murky backstory. Instead of a gripping tale of a family’s confrontation with an unknown evil, we get a series of disconnected scenes that fail to coalesce into a compelling narrative.

In conclusion, “Night Swim” is an unfortunate misstep for Blumhouse. It’s a disappointing start to 2024’s horror offerings. Its inability to capitalize on a promising premise and a talented cast results in a film that is likely to be forgotten as quickly as it appeared. For fans of the genre, the hope is that the year’s subsequent releases will provide the thrills and chills that “Night Swim” so glaringly lacks. As we look forward to the rest of 2024’s horror lineup, “Night Swim” serves as a stark reminder that even the most promising concepts need a strong script and innovative execution to make a lasting impact in the crowded world of horror cinema.