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The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

'A voice for the voiceless'
Kiley O’Brien ’25, Assistant Features Editor • July 18, 2024
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Lilli Dellheim '25 M.A., Special to the Hawk • July 13, 2024

CineHawk review: ‘Night Swim’

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GRAPHIC: ALLY ENGELBERT ’25/THE HAWK

A passable if forgettable horror debut from writer-director Bryce McGuire, “Night Swim” pits an innocent suburban family against a haunted swimming pool. Adapted from a short film McGuire co-directed with Rod Blackhurst, the feature stars Wyatt Russell, Kerry Condon, Amélie Hoeferle and Gavin Warren. It is currently playing exclusively in theaters.

“Night Swim” follows the Waller family who moves to the suburbs after professional baseball player Ray, played by Russell, is forced into early retirement by multiple sclerosis (MS). As they all adjust to this new status quo, the family discovers the house has a mysterious pool with uncannily rejuvenating properties. However, while Ray’s physical health begins to improve, it becomes all too clear that a dark and vicious force is slowly making its presence felt.

A film about a haunted swimming pool has a lot of potential as a campy, “so-bad-it’s-good” horror-comedy. Unfortunately, McGuire chose to adapt his four-minute short film concept into a serious family drama, a catastrophic miscalculation that neutralizes much of the potential entertainment value of “Night Swim.” Even worse, the film’s PG-13 rating means the filmmakers cannot fall back on any creative violence or gore.

As such, McGuire’s only tool for making his horror movie work is atmosphere, an area he is admittedly competent in. There are a few serviceable scares over the film’s 98-minute runtime, but nothing with a hint of originality or staying power. The final act, in particular, falls completely flat at being scary, though it does illustrate how fun the movie would be if it did not take itself so seriously.

As misguided as the “serious family drama” approach is, the cast of “Night Swim” tries to do it justice, at least. Russell and Condon have great chemistry, while Warren and Hoeferle are a decent sibling duo. For all the weaknesses in the script and direction, “Night Swim” does get you to care about the Waller family and hope they are able to overcome this evil entity, a low bar that many horror films never get close to clearing.

Overall, “Night Swim” never manages to be more than mediocre horror schlock, only held just above water by a cast that deserves better.

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