'Night Swim' review: Scary movie goes off the deep end
Courtesy of Universal
Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water.
Just kidding, the scares are pretty tame and severely lackluster in the Blumhouse chiller “Night Swim,” which is given the honor of being the first wide release of 2024. Perhaps “M3GAN,” gave a false sense of hope last year that the obligatory dumping ground for these movies would yield better results. On paper, the premise of “Night Swim,” adapted from writer-director Bryce McGuire’s own short film, is somewhat intriguing. A mysterious backyard swimming pool is crawling with all types of infested ghouls and feeds on unsuspecting families Amityville Horror style, but too often, McGuire gets in his own way of telling a compelling story. Worse, its PG13 rating holds it back from producing even the smallest of thrills. Today’s teenage moviegoing audience deserves better.
At least it tries to create an engaging family dynamic as we follow the Waller family in their quest to find stability after a tough year riddled with anguish and torment. Ray (Wyatt Russell) was a Major League Baseball player whose career stalled when he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, which left his wife Eve (Kerry Condon, following up her Oscar nominated performance in “The Banshees of Inisherin”) along with their two children Izzy (Amelia Hoeferle) and Elliot (Gavin Warren) to help carry the load. In the midst of relocating, they stumble upon a nice suburban house in a quiet neighborhood that has a pool in the backyard that, as luck would have it, is actually capable of curing degenerative diseases! That’s not strange, right?
Indeed, the Waller’s lavish new swimming pool is fishy, but for all the wrong reasons. The kids begin hearing strange noises from the deep end, are seeing visions of a little girl named Rebecca looking for her mommy, and their cute little cat has coincidentally gone missing. And, to make matters worse, a harmless game of Marco Polo between Izzy and her very Christian boyfriend nosedives into uncharted waters and daddio is puking black slime!
As you can see, the longer “Night Swim” treks on, the sillier and more outlandish it becomes. Had McGuire established a tone or some ground rules prior to the eventual mythos behind this pool from hell, maybe it would’ve played better than an episode of “Goosebumps.” Condon and Russell, bless their hearts, try fueling the movie's familial themes of sacrifice and love, but it’s sandwiched in a movie that’s too afraid of taking legitimate risks. It’s a shame the filmmakers didn’t use more aquatic tension to construct real fear from the depths below. Instead, it’s all cheap, bland, and routine swimming exercises here. If this movie were a local pool, I'd ask for my money back.
NIGHT SWIM is now playing in theaters.