The phenomenon of Blumhouse Productions will likely be studied for many years to come. This studio managed to take the irrational horror genre and place it on the tracks of rigorous Hollywood production, where there is no room for delays and setbacks. Does this affect the quality of the final films? Absolutely, as evidenced by the somewhat modest ratings from critics. Box office numbers don’t seem to bother them much, so we won’t be getting rid of Blumhouse Productions horrors anytime soon. “Night Swim” is the latest addition to the studio’s horror films. Let’s discuss how it turned out in our review.
- “Night Swim” Genre: Horror
- Director: Bryce McGuire
- Starring: Wyatt Russell, Kerry Condon, Nancy Lenehan, Ben Sinclair, Jodi Long Theatrical Release
- Year: 2024
- IMDb: 5.1
The film tells the story of the Wollers, a family forced to find a new home due to the head of the family Ray’s (Wyatt Russell) issues with his baseball career. Ray needs recovery after an injury. The house they find happens to have a neglected pool, capable of positively affecting the physical and moral well-being of the man. However, a series of strange events begins to show that the pool is not as simple as it seemed at first glance.
The story behind “Night Swim” is banal and reminiscent of dozens of other horror films. The local screenplay is based on a 2014 short film with the same name. The short film aimed to demonstrate the viability of the idea of a “killer pool.” However, the authors stumbled at the most obvious moment because what works in a four-minute story can only induce boredom when extended to an almost hundred-minute film.
“Night Swim” is boring. A cliché phrase, but it fits perfectly for such a cliché film.
It gives the impression that the good material for the film was exhausted in the first four minutes of the source. Everything else had to be filled with typical Blumhouse Productions plot lines about family, moments from the past, and pretentious conversations about nothing.
You don’t even need to think twice to understand the maximum template development of everything in the story. Again, a family with problems, again, a mysterious house, again, attempts to find out the truth about what is happening through previous residents, and again, a mysterious entity that will emerge at the end of the film and definitively kill all attempts to scare the audience, simultaneously taking control of one of the characters.
This is not even a spoiler because such a structure is actively exploited in many other horror films. It feels like there is an automatic script generator for horror films in the film industry, where you just need to change variables like character names and key threats, while the essence remains the same.
And even such an approach can work if the key threat is implemented decently. Recall, for example, “Sinister,” which fits well into the above structure but still turned out to be a worthy film.
The problem is that the threat in “Night Swim” is the pool. Yes, it sounds absurd. Looks even more absurd.
Here you can try to justify the authors because the film tries to play on our fear of drowning, combining the fear of water, depth, and suffocation in general. Moreover, backyard pools are one of the important features of American culture, a manifestation of the “American dream,” an image significantly influenced by capitalist society. Like many other horror films, “Night Swim” did not come out of nowhere; it has a clear foundation.
The only problem is that the foundation is as unreliable as the water in the pool. Disregarding ties to the American way of life, we get a very strange object at the center of the plot. Moreover, this object is somehow associated with mysticism and ancestral traditions. I emphasize your attention; this is a film about a pool. Scary? Not really? Understandable, nothing surprising.
Pool adventures are diluted with quarrels between the main characters and scenes from their family life. They are so dull and, pardon me, uninspiring that watching other unfortunate viewers who went with you to the cinema for “Night Swim” becomes more interesting.
This is a typical Blumhouse story, where horror is diluted with family drama. Something good rarely comes out of it—and this is not an exception.
It cannot be said that the film is made poorly from a technical point of view. It looks good and sounds good (the latter is extremely important for horror films). It’s just that the technical implementation is aimed at such a foolish idea that it, by itself, does not become an achievement.
And it’s also not a scary film at all. Honestly, I’m getting tired of saying this about almost every horror film. But “Night Swim” is so loaded with clichés that it deserves to repeat what has already been said. If you want something interesting about drowning, watch “Lake Mungo” from 2008. And it’s better to interact with pools personally than to watch them through bad films.
“Night Swim” is not just boring but openly bad cinema that takes a foolish idea and tries to make something serious out of it. It doesn’t succeed. However, in contemporary cinema, being outright “bad” rather than just “boring” is also an achievement in its own way. But you probably won’t want to spend your time and money on it.