top of page
  • Writer's pictureS.J.

'Night Swim' review: Supernatural horror starring Kerry Condon & Wyatt Russell is in deep water

Kerry Condon looking worried underwater
Universal Pictures

Swim, swim for your lives because not only do you have to worry about terrible humans or dangerous animals, swimming pools (yes, you read that right) are also out to get you now. Diving into the shallow yet lucrative waters of January horror is Night Swim, a supernatural horror that wishes to drown you and the characters in its misery despite what the premise might be. The Waller family, that includes severely ill baseball pro and dad Ray (Wyatt Russell), mom Eve (Kerry Condon), teen daughter Izzy (Amélie Hoeferle) and younger son Elliot (Gavin Warren), move into a new house with a swimming pool as Ray is instructed to do lighter exercising to improve his muscles again. Miraculously, Ray's daily pool exercises work wonders for his health. Soon though, his behaviour begins to change and more accidents happen in the pool for others, leading them to discover that it's haunted.

Director-writer Bryce McGuire is adapting his and Rod Blackhurst's short film of the same name here in his feature debut, attempting to expand on the fairly goofy premise and flesh out the scenario a bit more. Not all of those directions and choices pan out as well as they should but rather surprisingly, the end result isn't nearly as bad as it could've been and that's mostly due to successes rarely found in other underwhelming studio horrors.

All the family members are actually pretty well developed and distinct—instead of being copied and pasted from movies Night Swim is riffing on—as each of them have their own purpose and mission in both the build-up and the climax. And whilst nothing groundbreaking comes out of the portrayals, none of the actors are phoning it in by any means. Sure, Condon particularly is securing her bag (deservedly) but she is putting an emphasis on her scream queen outing, even delivering some believable emotional heft when necessary.

Since there are plenty of those important individual things working somewhat effectively, it's a bummer the picture as a whole isn't quite as clear and precise. ''B-movie'' as a term is slightly reductive on its own but you can create something substantial if you try to reach for A+ in the process, sadly that isn't really the case with Night Swim since McGuire and his team take a deadly serious route, which turns the movie into an unentertaining slog that doesn't have much to say about anything. Cinematographer Charlie Sarroff finds decent angles and composer Mark Korven provides enough creepy notes but the frights aren't quite there and neither is the fun that this premise promises. The film is about a killer pool, for heaven's sake! You should go for broke, take a few left turns, create some memorable imagery. Otherwise you simply won't make a splash as Night Swim exemplifies.

Smileys: Characterisation

Frowneys: Tone, atmosphere

Remember to pay your water kill.


After Misery's logo with the text ''all things film & television'' underneath it.
bottom of page