KSL Movie Show review: ‘Night Swim’ is a murky mess
Jan 12, 2024, 6:00 PM
SALT LAKE CITY — Based on a five-minute short film by the same name ten years ago, the Blumhouse gang decided to give this new filmmaker, Bryce McGuire, a chance to expand on his idea with a ninety-minute feature film.
The original idea was simple, with a fairly intense result.
Young woman swimming in a pool at night, sees a figure standing poolside from deep underwater. When she surfaces to chide her boyfriend for startling her, no one is there.
She goes back under and again sees a shadowy figure on the lawn, but this time, the waterlogged figure approaches the edge of the pool.
Young woman leaps back in a panic, the lights go out in the pool. Lights come back on. Pool is empty.
Quick, simple, chills.
Oh, if only it were that easy.
Now, McGuire and his writing partner Rod Blackhurst have to add another 85 minutes of terror, attract a couple of top-notch performers and keep an audience on the edge of their seats for hopefully some of the time.
It’s a tall order, so here’s what they came up with.
‘Night Swim’ as a full-length movie
Ray Waller (Wyatt Russell) is a medically-retired, third baseman for the Milwaukee Brewers, whose career is cut short with the onset of muscular dystrophy.
In search of a new home near his medical facility, they find a super deal on a nice big house with a good-sized pool. His wife Eve (Kerry Condon) is not keen on the pool, even though she’s an accomplished swimmer and their kids Izzy (Amélie Hoeferle) and Elliot (Gavin Warren) are overjoyed.
We know from the opening scene, which borrows liberally from the short film, that a young girl Rebecca drowned years earlier in that same pool trying to catch a toy powerboat, but the real estate agent fails to mention it since it’s all in the past.
A pool tech (Ben Sinclair) expounds on the pool’s virtues, saying it’s unusual to find a pool that is fed by a natural, underground spring in a most reverent and strange manner. Enjoy him, because his antics are some of the few lighthearted moments in a film about a killer pool.
So deciding to continue on this somber path, the kids experience some weird sightings. Mom has one too, but dad finds new energy and strength in the healing waters, to the point where he wants to spend all of his time in the pool.
His behavior becomes even more erratic and Eve is beginning to take notice, going so far to do the obligatory web search for strange events that have occurred in and around the area.
We see flashes of old-timey photos of businessmen, nurses, was that a clown? All bunches of people that all met their doom in this spring-fed area.
What in the world is going on? And how much more disjointed craziness can we pile upon this story to get to that ninety-minute goal? More than a giggling audience can handle, from what I was hearing.
When it appeared the water itself had its own goals and aspirations (none of them good), I checked out.
But I did get a kick out of the daughter taking a baseball bat to an aqua-zombie character like that’s gonna help. Wait. It did? Come on!
“Night Swim” is a murky mess. Should have been funny-scary. Wasn’t. Tried to be scary-scary. Couldn’t pull that off either.
There’s no lifeguard or plot fixer: So swim at your own risk.
NIGHT SWIM (C-) Rated PG-13 for terror, some violent content and language. Starring Wyatt Condon, Kerry Condon, Amélie Hoeferle, Gavin Warren and Jodi Long. Co-written and directed by Bryce McGuire in his feature film debut. Filmed in Los Angeles. Running time: 98 minutes
More from the KSL Movie Show:
- ‘The Family Plan’ is entertaining but not exceptional
- ‘The Color Purple’ and other holiday-week releases
- ‘Wonka’ is sweet, upbeat, innocent