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Night Swim Drowns In Its Own Expectations And Premise {Review}

Night Swim is not the kick-off to the big Blumhouse/Atomic Monster merger that they were hoping for. Entirely forgettable.

Article Summary

  • Night Swim falls short as Blumhouse/Atomic Monster's merger kick-off film.
  • Despite solid performances, the film's ending is nonsensical and rushed.
  • A family drama approach might have saved the flawed horror concept.
  • The film disappoints, leading to theater audience boos at its conclusion.

Night Swim has a lot to live up to. It is the second big collaboration between Blumhouse and Atomic Monster, the horror behemoths that gave us M3gan the same weekend last year and recently finalized a merger. They have been pushing the film as the big kick-off to horror in 2024 and as a huge film for theaters in a month that will see fewer big releases. Sadly, it does not live up to the hype. Despite solid performances from the entire cast, the whole thing falls apart quickly before having one of the most nonsensical endings in some time. There was a germ of a good idea here, leaving you wishing it was an entirely different film.

Night Swim trailer Reveals Latest Blumhouse/Atomic Monster Film
Amélie Hoeferle as Izzy Waller in Night Swim, written and directed by Bryce McGuire. Anne Marie Fox/Universal Pictures

Night Swim Should Have Been A Straight Drama, No Horror

Baseball player Ray Waller (Wyatt Russell) has been forced into early retirement after being diagnosed with MS. Reeling from the news, he moves his family into a new neighborhood, into a house with a pool. Almost immediately, his wife (Kerry Condon) realizes something is wrong with the pool, though she still lets her kids (Amélie Hoeferle and Gavin Warren) swim in it. She searches for answers when they also experience traumatic events in the water. Meanwhile, Ray's disease begins to go into remission, for which he credits the pool. The more time he stays in the pool, the more he begins to change.

Walking out of Night Swim, it became apparent that this script needed to change completely and not be a horror film. Based on an original short film by Bryce McGuire, he returns to write and direct this feature-length version. The film's failures are not his fault; for a feature debut, he has a knack for producing compelling shots and gets great performances from his cast. The problem is the concept itself. The haunted pool is not explained satisfyingly at all, and really not until the final fifteen minutes of the run time. It has been a while since an ending felt so incredibly rushed. No, the real move here would have been to go the complete opposite way and tell a family drama with the same story. Take all of the horror elements out; there is a fantastic story with a sharp cast that could have been special.

Russell continues to be one of the more underrated talents in Hollywood, and he is really good here both as an athlete coming to grips with his playing days ending and as a dad who really has to step up for the first time after being away for most of his kids' lives. It was a compelling performance, and he is a leading man all the way. Despite the material she is given, Condon almost steals the film with a commanding performance. She has a wonderful chemistry with Russell, Hoeferle, and Warren; they feel like a family. Even as the film crumbles around them as the answers are given, rooting for them to get through Night Swim unscathed is easy.

Night Swim: New Look Brings You Inside The January Horror Film
Kerry Condon as Eve Waller in Night Swim, directed by Bryce McGuire. Photo Credit Universal Pictures 2023.

But boy, that final act is brutal. None of it makes a lick of sense, and the film breaks its own rules multiple times to get to what should be an emotional ending, leaving you cold and angry. After the big emotional crescendo, the film ends. People booed in the theater. That is never a good sign, but it was hard to argue with them.

Night Swim is not the kick-off to 2024 we theaters were hoping for, and it is not the right foot for the big Blumhouse/Atomic Monster merger to start with. Nobody will cherish this one, and most will forget it instantly. After turning M3GAN into a new horror icon last year, it would always be hard for this film to live up to those lofty expectations. As BC's Adi Tantimedh said to me, "It is harder to cosplay as a pool."

Night Swim

Night Swim trailer Reveals Latest Blumhouse/Atomic Monster Film
Review by Jeremy Konrad

Night Swim is not the kick-off to the big Blumhouse/Atomic Monster merger that they were hoping for. Despite solid performances from the cast, the film is a mess that builds to a complete letdown of an ending. It is entirely forgettable.

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Jeremy KonradAbout Jeremy Konrad

Jeremy Konrad has written about collectibles and film for almost ten years. He has a deep and vast knowledge of both. He resides in Ohio with his family.
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