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‘Night Swim’ (Blu-ray review)

Universal

 

Few things in life are certain, but January being a dumping ground for less than stellar cinematic efforts has a long history of continuously underwhelming output, which is thanks to the month consistently having the lowest numbers of butts in seats year after year.

That being said, as with most things, there are exceptions to this rule, as pleasant surprises may be nestled in the January release schedule from time to time.

Unfortunately, that is not the case with Night Swim.

Originally released in the first week of 2024, this is the epitome of a January movie in all the worst ways.

Based on a 3-minute short film of the same name, writer/director Bryce McGuire reprises those duties with this bloated feature film version, and judging by how his other efforts as a writer on 2024 horrors Baghead and Imaginary have been received, the filmmaker clearly has many areas where he can improve.

Where the original short film confined the narrative to the haunted swimming pool, we cannot realistically expect a feature film to spend the entirety of its runtime in said pool.

As a result, we have, perhaps, the most egregious case of padding a film in recent memory.

Here, anything that happens outside of the pool feels trite, which is exacerbated by how utterly lifeless the characters feel, meaning otherwise fine actors such as Wyatt Russell and Kerry Condon deliver overwhelmingly flat performances, once again underlining that McGuire has a lot to learn as both a writer and a director.

Due to the duration of the short film, the unfortunate fate that befell the swimmer in that piece also made sense, as three minutes is a believable amount of time for someone to stay in a pool in spite of odd things happening, but in the feature length version, there are some scenes where characters experience unpleasantries in the pool over a much longer stretch of time, yet they stay in the water against anyone’s better judgement.

This makes the characters less compelling, as their behavior seems unrealistic, making it exceedingly difficult for audiences to invest in them, which in turn makes it impossible to credibly create any sense of dread.

The pacing is also abysmal, as the film struggles immensely to build any sort of momentum, resulting in the relatively short runtime of 98 minutes dragging along and making the film feel much longer than it really is.

Similarly, the film is also devoid of any tension whatsoever, as there is no sense of urgency or unease due to the overall flatness of the piece.

The scares are also dead on arrival as the film is too lacking in atmosphere to sufficiently set them up, and when a scare does occur, it is usually a subpar jump scare, and we can all agree that the only thing worse than a jump scare is a poorly executed jump scare.

Extras include featurettes and audio commentary.

Proving that some concepts lends themselves best to the short film medium and do not translate well to feature length, Night Swim is an off-puttingly bland and boring film that is ultimately nothing more than another dull January dud that is dead in the water.

Verdict: 2 out of 10.

 

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