Night Swim – A Lame Horror Film Fished Out of a Dirty Pool

MOVIE REVIEW – Kerry Condon tries to make swimming pools scary with a cheap Blumhouse garbage after his Oscar nomination, without success. The Night Swim is not a cheesy Japanese horror film adaptation from the early 2000s, but it sure looks like one.



The first weekend in January, when after the great films at the end of last year we get another junk horror flick in the cinema, is a bit like going to McDonald’s after a gourmet dinner the night before. This period is characterised by shoddy horror films such as The Devil Lives Inside You, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3D, Dark Forest and The Unborn. All of these were released in the last few years, at the beginning of the year, carefully hidden from the prying eyes of critics due to lack of press screenings, and although all of these films are the lowest of the low, this film distribution practice remains profitable. However, last year’s unexpectedly good ‘M3gan’ was not only a commercial success but also a critical success, so Blumhouse quickly released another piece of junk this year, lest the trend of lousy horror films at the beginning of the year be seriously disrupted by a film that was too good for its own good.



The water in this pool is unpleasantly cold and dirty


The subject of our article, Night Swim, is another cheesy horror about an evil swimming pool, and although M3gan wasn’t an Oscar-winning film, Bloomhouse’s latest is really just another dirty pool. It’s the kind of junk that even the streaming channels don’t really embrace anymore, and is more reminiscent of 80s self parody garbage like Bloody Beach, Deathbed and Killer Workout. But unlike these films, Night Swim also takes its nonsense uncomfortably more seriously than the story it attempts to tell deserves.

For star Kerry Condon, this film is an odd choice after her Oscar-nominated performance in The Ghosts of the Island. His only ‘reward’ is that we get to see him on screen in this thankless role far more than anywhere else. She plays a woman trying to understand why her new pool is causing so much havoc in her family’s new life. Her husband, played by Wyatt Russell, is a former baseball player with early onset multiple sclerosis, and although water therapy initially improves his condition, he quickly becomes a kind of poor man’s Jack Torrance, obsessed with the pool and willing to do whatever the pool wants, even if the pool is bad.


Az Éjszakai merülés hőse egy baseballsztár (Wyatt Russel), aki gyógyíthatatlan betegsége miatt kénytelen visszavonulni.


Why is the pool bad? What does the pool want? How does the pool kill?


These questions lead to some unintentionally hilarious scenes (Russell gets the energy to hit a “home run” thinking about the pool, a glass shatters because he’s obsessed with the pool water) and some equally silly exchanges (“There’s something wrong with this pool!”). “This pool is the best thing that’s ever happened to me!”), but as writer-director Bryce McGuire feeds in elements of The Shining and The Circle with increasing clumsiness, the whole concept falls apart. The more we learn about the pool, the more absurd the whole thing becomes, highlighted by one of the least convincing and worst-acted opening scenes I can remember in a horror film. The story, at first extremely pointless and convoluted, starts to make sense – at least somewhat – when we get to know the backstory of the film itself, which is based on a simple one-shot short film from 2014.



It’s like a lame 2000 Japanese horror adaptation


Rather than resembling a trash horror from the 80s in the US and Europe, the film veers into the style of many failed Japanese horror remakes from the 2000s, such as One Missed Call, Pulse and Shutter, which were just unimaginative and silly attempts to copy the Japanese source material, but even that didn’t work for the directors of those films. Like these male works, Night Swim almost ‘drowns’ in its overblown yet clumsily constructed imagery, which tries to scare us, but only makes us laugh.

The fundamental problem with The Night Swim is that no matter how hard McGuire tries (and it’s a credit to his directorial skills that he does try), the pool never becomes the terrifying scene it should be, and the horror and story elements that prevent the family from leaving the house or simply taking a dip in the damn pool are terribly forced and annoying, so our interest quickly dwindles. The rushed final act, the silly and tediously incoherent internal rules of the story, invented scene by scene, the ridiculous emotional and acting acting are just playing on the nerves of the viewer in a bad way and not in a way that is associated with the horror genre.

-Gergely Herpai (BadSector)-



Night Swim

Direction - 3.2
Actors - 5.4
Story - 2.5
Horror - 3.8
Ambience - 3.5



"Night Swim" is a low budget, low budget horror film starring Oscar winner Kerry Condon. The film starts out reminiscent of 80s B-movies, then quickly veers into the de absurdity of American remakes of 2000s Japanese horror films. Despite the director's efforts, the story fails to deliver the expected scares, the final act is incoherent and lacks emotional depth. The film fails to hold the viewer's interest due to a clumsily pieced-together backstory and empty characters.

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BadSector is a seasoned journalist for more than twenty years. He communicates in English, Hungarian and French. He worked for several gaming magazines - including the Hungarian GameStar, where he worked 8 years as editor. (For our office address, email and phone number check out our impressum)

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