Take a dip in the murky waters of supernatural horror with Night Swim! Director Bryce McGuire makes a splash in his feature directorial debut, turning a suburban backyard into a supernatural battleground. The film, swimming upstream against the frigid release waters of January, stars Wyatt Russell and Kerry Condon as parents grappling with more than just adjusting to a new home, uncovering the aquatic enigma of a potentially haunted pool. For someone like me, who spent childhood summers playing Marco Polo and avoiding sewer gators in the shadowy depths at night, Night Swim hits close to home.
Night Swim introduces us to the Wallers, a family yearning for stability as they settle into a new home, with their patriarch Ray Waller (Wyatt Russell) seeking to stay afloat amidst the challenges of his waning health. The property’s unique feature, a seemingly invigorating pool, becomes a centerpiece of their daily life, and briefly, their savior. As Ray glides through his aquatic therapy, the water’s embrace appears to wash away his maladies—yet, beneath the tranquil surface, danger lurks, ready to turn their lives into a whirlpool of horrors.
That murkiness soon invades, and Eve Waller (Kerry Condon) senses that the pool’s healing caress has sinister undertows. In the shadow of an inexplicably rejuvenated Ray, their backyard oasis becomes a source of dread rather than relief. Haunting whispers from the pool filter, shadowy apparitions above the water, and even their own feline’s disappearance have the Wallers questioning every poolside dip.
Hot at the Shop:
Night Swim’s poolside peril genuinely delivers, and what’s more, each character reacts to the supernatural in a way that’s refreshingly realistic. They’re not the type to shrug off a poltergeist for a late-night dip—they’ve got common sense. Each member of the family has their own brush with aquatic horror, and they’re all left cautious and alert because of it. You won’t see them wading back into the deep end for funzies, which is a testament to how well the characters themselves are handled.
Shoutouts where they’re due; Kerry Condon’s portrayal of Eve carries the film’s emotional current, her maternal instincts locked in a constant backstroke against the tide of chlorinated malevolence. Izzy’s teenage romance subplot provides a breath of fresh air to the poolside plot. Nancy Lenehan’s realtor character seasons the plot with a splash of sunshine and humor, as delightful as her rum jello.
The cinematography and sound are all stellar, however. Each dip is handled deftly both above and below the water, using every ripple to the haunting’s advantage. The camera catches all of the action, both above and below, with ease. And too, the audio design brilliantly amplifies the terror, particularly as the soundtrack and backyard ambiance mute beneath the surface. It adds a layer of claustrophobia and deprives you of one of your key ‘fight or flight’ senses.
“It’s a promising plunge into the genre that leaves us eager to see what depths [Bryce McGuire will] explore next.”
Overall, Night Swim entertains with a story that could be anyone’s next-door nightmare, underscored by scares skillfully delivered and a family you can’t help but root for. Despite the story’s murky layers of lore, the standout performances and immersive visual and audio choices shine through. For Bryce McGuire’s debut, it’s a promising plunge into the genre that leaves us eager to see what depths he’ll explore next. Despite its dips, Night Swim manages to float above its faults with scares that’ll keep viewers hooked till the closing credits.
[Review] Aquatic Fright NIGHT SWIM Turns Tranquility into Terror
Overall, Night Swim entertains with a story that could be anyone's next-door nightmare, underscored by scares skillfully delivered and a family you can't help but root for. Despite the story's murky layers of lore, the standout performances and immersive visual and audio choices shine through. For Bryce McGuire's debut, it's a promising plunge into the genre that leaves us eager to see what depths he'll explore next. Despite its dips, Night Swim manages to float above its faults with scares that'll keep viewers hooked till the closing credits.