Night Swim


“It’s So Cool in the Deep Water”

Main Cast: Wyatt Russell, Kerry Condon

Director: Bryce McGuire

We found ourselves with a little free time the other day, but since it wasn’t enough time to watch the movie I wanted to watch, we watched NIGHT SWIM on Peacock instead.  This was a movie that had been on my radar since the trailer hit, but I wasn’t rushing out to see it because the idea of a haunted pool felt like grasping at straws, really.  It’s just one more haunted object we’re supposed to be afraid of and I’m sure there’s some nonsensical backstory to explain the evil lurking in the pool and I’m sure one of the main characters becomes possessed by the evil and I’m sure there’s some big confrontation at the end and I’m sure in a month’s time I won’t care about any of it as the world moves onto the haunted Keurig summer blockbuster movie.  Or was it a haunted towel rack?  I mean, as long as we’re throwing random items into the ring for consideration, can we get a haunted hat movie going?  Cuz I already wrote that one, if Hollywood’s interested …

But I digress.  So, NIGHT SWIM.  Written and directed by Bryce McGuire (writer of BAGHEAD, director of SOON YOU WILL BE GONE AND POSSIBLY EATEN), it stars Wyatt Russell (Monarch: Legacy of Monsters) and Kerry Condon (AVENGERS: ENDGAME) as Ray and Eve Waller.  Ray is a baseball player who’s been recently diagnosed with MS and Eve works in the admin office of the local school.  They’re looking for a new home and as they’re driving away from a rental they just looked at, Ray spots a house for sale.  They check it out, fall in love with the pool, and realize it’s closer to the school where Eve’s going to be working.  Plus, she says she’s always wanted to own a home, but every time Ray got traded, they had to pull up stakes once again.  But Ray’s not playing right now, and his doctor did say water therapy would do him some good…

They move in and immediately get to work on fixing the pool.  Once it’s ready, Ray begins his water therapy, and the results don’t take long to be noticed.  His son, Elliot (Gavin Warren, Fear the Walking Dead), however, has a very different experience when he hears a voice coming from the overflow and an arm reaches out and grabs him.

Later, their daughter Izzy (Amelie Hoeferle, THE HUNGER GAMES: THE BALLAD OF SONGBIRDS & SNAKES) invites her swim team boyfriend over and has her own bad experience, leading her to, when she’s alone during a pool party the Wallers throw, keep her feet away from the water and out of the reach of whatever’s down there.

When Eve decides enough’s enough and it’s time to get away from the pool, she tries to throw everyone in the car and drive away, but Ray has a bad reaction and starts choking.  He’s rushed back into the house and put to bed where he begs Eve to just carry him out to pool for one more session.

This is where the movie does what this movie was bound to do, and Eve starts to investigate the history of the house and its pool and what she finds doesn’t surprise ANYONE watching.

NIGHT SWIM benefitted from a few choice shots in the trailer, but ultimately it is what it is, a movie about a haunted pool.  The performances are about standard for this kind of movie, nothing terrible, but no one’s getting an Oscar nomination for it, either.  This movie is a resume-builder for everyone involved, nothing more

There was a ton of underwater photography if you’re into that sort of thing, lots of underwater struggles with the entities residing in the pool, and some pretty effective long-range shots where characters are underwater and the light from the outside seems to be hundreds of feet above them.  For the most part, I felt the movie worked for what it was.  I mean, if you’re gonna watch a movie about a haunted pool, NIGHT SWIM does just about as good a job telling that story as you’re gonna get.  But at the end of the day, it’s still a movie about a haunted pool.  And in the annals of horror cinema, THE AMITYVILLE HORROR it’s not, even though it’s throwing off definite “inspired-by” vibes at every turn.

Wyatt Russell gives Ray some pathos and we’re happy for him when the pool begins to heal him, but we’ve also seen this movie before and know where things are headed as he hits every one of those George Lutz/Jack Torrance cues.  Kerry Condon doesn’t deviate one inch from Eve’s predestined path as the movie’s chief investigator/main caregiver, but in this movie it all works.  Because, like I said, no one’s doing bad work here.  That’s not the problem.  The problem is it’s a movie about a haunted pool.

McGuire’s script works about as well as can be expected, as does his direction.  Everything and everyone here is competent enough to turn in good work.  In a movie about a haunted pool.  And, no, I’m not going to get over that, because it’s just such a ridiculous premise, it doesn’t matter how well the script is written, how wonderfully shot or how stellar the acting.  At the end of the day, I spent an hour and 38 minutes of my Sunday watching a movie about a haunted pool.  And honestly, I’m fine with it.

Hell, I don’t even have a problem recommending NIGHT SWIM: it’s not a good movie, but it’s not a bad one, either.  There was nothing here, outside the main premise, that struck me as so badly done that it threw me out of the movie or made me feel bad for suggesting to my wife that we watch it.  I’ve spent 98 minutes watching WAY worse movies than this, believe me.

If you can go into NIGHT SWIM okay with the fact it’s about a haunted pool, then you’re probably going to enjoy yourself just as much as I did, which wasn’t a lot, but I had 98 minutes to kill on a Sunday afternoon, and I think that’s the perfect time to watch this movie.

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