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Film: Night Swim
Cast: Wyatt Russell, Kerry Condon, Amélie Hoeferle
Director: Bryce McGuire
Rating: 2/5
Runtime: 98 min

The first horror movie to be released this new year, “ Night Swim” has a novel premise but unfortunately the director and team of creators are unable to take the story to any great level of horror.

Produced by James Wan and Blumhouse, Night Swim is written and directed by Bryce McGuire, who this feature debut upon a short film he made ten years ago with Rod Blackhurst. The interesting thing here is that it`s about a pool that’s haunted. Other than that intriguing fact, there’s little here that would interest the horror fan. The mood is pretty much sedate and becomes unsettling only when there’s something about to happen. McGuire establishes faint tension and makes fairly good use of sound design and camera angles. Upside-down shots, reflections, bright images of clouds and blue sky shining on the leaf-strewn pool cover, seem inviting, but there’s also a hint of something ominous lurking behind it all. The steady gurgling of the filter and the groan of the diving board suggest dangers yet to come.

The story is just surface-level. There’s no history just elements put together to gain purchase for some mild horror. The film opens with a flashback to 1992 that reveals a pigtailed, little girl getting lost in a big-sized Olympic pool. We understand that her body was never found. Cut to the present day, Ray (Wyatt Russell, son of Kurt Russell), his wife Eve, played by recent Oscar-nominee Kerry Condon, their teenage daughter Izzy (Amélie Hoeferle), and younger son Elliot (Gavin Warren), move into their new home with a pool in a new town, Alameda. Ray’s career as a superstar Baseball player has been truncated by Multiple Sclerosis and he thinks the pool will aid his rehabilitation efforts.

This is not a bloody, violent horror flick. It’s mostly suggestive and even the jump scares and body count are minimal. Of course, you can’t get going without some very tired horror conventions. But McGuire keeps it simple and painless. The performances are earnest, and the cinematography does well to up the quality of this effort but the ghosts just don’t cut the ice. The CGI feels rather crude. Even so, you might just get drawn into the suggestive nature of this enterprise. For those hoping for obvious in-your-face horror, look elsewhere!

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