Review | Night Swim | 2024

Amélie Hoeferle as Izzy Waller in Night Swim, written and directed by Bryce McGuire.

Horror movies generally require a certain suspension of disbelief to work as intended. The best ones can still operate by their own internal sense of logic as long as they've convinced the audience that even the most outlandish of scenarios are plausible in the world presented to us.

A failure to abide by a sense of internal logic is often what trips horror movies up. Even the most surreal and abstract films can operate on their own sense of logic and create an indelible time and place that exists outside our known reality. But few things can lose an audience more quickly than a refusal (or an inability) to play by your own rules.

Therein lies the biggest problem with Night Swim, the new horror film by Bryce McGuire, making his feature debut adapting his own 2014 short film of the same name. The film centers around a haunted pool whose deadly past is hidden from the unsuspecting family who moves in, and soon begin experiencing strange things in the water. The father, a famous major league baseball player whose career has been cut short by multiple sclerosis, soon finds his symptoms mysteriously healed after a few short swims. His family, on the other hand, keeps having near-death experiences and hearing strange voices calling to them from the pool, trying to drag them down into the depths in their quest for...something.

There are a few half-hearted attempts to explain this, but none of them hold any water (har har). Naturally, there's something to be said for the terror of being in the unknown; the attempts to explain the haunted pool are silly at best and downright stupid at worst. And of course, there's always the option to...not go in the pool, which never seems to occur to anyone at any point. Spooky things happening in a pool at night? There's an eerie idea there. But Night Swim's "what if The Shining but in a pool instead of a hotel" premise is too goofy to take seriously and too repetitive and bland to be frightening. 

GRADE - ★ (out of four)

NIGHT SWIM | Directed by Bryce McGuire | Stars Wyatt Russell, Kerry Condon, Amélie Hoeferle, Gavin Warren | Rated PG-13 for terror, some violent content and language | Now streaming exclusively on Peacock.


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