Friday, January 05, 2024

Night Swim, from Blumhouse

There is something sinister going on in the Wallers’ new pool that is even worse than those creeps who secretly pee under the water, in their trunks. Apparently, no amount of cholerine will wash out the supernatural natural evil that infects it. The family’s fresh start leads to dark waters in Bryce McGuire’s Blumhouse-produced Night Swim, which opens today in theaters.

Ray Waller is the first cinematic Milwaukee Brewer since Bernie Mac in
Mr. 3000, but it currently appears his baseball career will be cut short by a sudden MS diagnosis. His wife Eve wants him to focus on maintenance for his post-pro life, but he still harbors ambitions for a comeback. They buy their new house for a suspiciously low price, but admittedly the pool is in quite a state. In fact, it almost kills him when he accidentally falls in.

Nevertheless, the buy the house for the sake of his aquatic therapy, which does indeed work wonders—to an unprecedented degree. Yet, his teen daughter Izzy and “awkward” preteen son Elliot start experiencing weird and even life-threatening phenomenon when they go into the water alone (which they aren’t supposed to do, of course). Eventually, even Waller’s wife Eve notices it too.

The Thai film
The Pool remains the scariest horror film set in a swimming pool—but in that case, it was empty, except for the crocodile. Frankly, the execution is surprisingly polished and effective throughout Night Swim, especially Charlie Saroff’s cinematography, which cleverly capitalizes on the diffraction of a light through water, which makes straight items suddenly appear crooked.

However, McGuire’s screenplay is a feature-length fix-up based on a previous like-titled short film he co-wrote with Rod Blackhurst and it shows. This evil swimming pool premise just cannot sustain itself at a feature-length.

Still, there are some creepy scenes, especially when Eve Waller searches out the former owner, Kay Summers, the mother of the unfortunate little girl in the prologue. Jodi Long is spectacularly off as Mother Summers and Ben Sinclair delivers a Will Ferrell impersonation as their pool tech guy that is funnier than the real Ferrell in his brief appearance.

There is also decent chemistry between Wyatt Russell and Kerry Condon as the Wallers. Russell should be primed for a breakout, following up
Monarch: Legacy of Monsters with a Blumhouse release. In fact, he expresses the frustration, physical and emotional, of Waller’s career and ego damaging illness with convincing complexity. It is a serious performance. There is more precedence for Condon portraying Eve Waller as a Momma Bear protecting her cubs, but her intensity still impresses.

The original short was less five minutes, so it was essentially a proof-of-concept teaser. Arguably, the right length for
Night Swim might be something in the thirty-to-forty-minute range, perhaps as part of some sort of Blumhouse anthology. Unfortunately, the ninety-some minute running time makes it too conspicuous the degree to which the film is tied to its location. Night Swim is not terrible, but it is also not a successful enough expansion to recommend at the current price of theater tickets or early release VOD. For Blumhouse fans, it opens today (1/5) in theaters, including the AMC Lincoln Square in New York.