Night Swim

Following the success of his ominous little movie short called Night Swim, which exploded on Youtube nearly a decade ago, filmmaker Bryce McGuire takes the premise to the big screen with a feature-length adaptation.

Unfortunately, rather than the perfectly executed swan dive into horror he had hoped for, Night Swim belly flops into the depths of disappointment by failing to deliver on the promises of a gripping thriller. Despite its ominous title, the film lacks the tension and coherence necessary to keep us engaged. Which is kind of sad, because we had hoped for so much more from the first film about a haunted swimming pool.

"the entire experience fails to make a splash in the thriller/horror genre"

Wyatt Russell (Everybody Wants Some) is Ray Waller, a Major League Baseball player recovering from a debilitating injury that has put his career on hiatus and levied a strain on his family. With his wife Eve (Kerry Condon, The Banshees of Inisherin), teenage daughter Izzy (Amélie Hoeferle, The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes), and pre-teen son Elliot (Gavin Warren, Fear the Walking Dead) the family moves into a new house. And wouldn’t you know it, the new digs has a backyard swimming pool. Perfect for Ray who hopes it can help him with his physical therapy regimen.

But little does he know, the pool carries a deep, dark secret from the home’s past that just might unleash a sinister curse on the family and anyone who swims in the pool.

Of the film's many shortcomings, its principle weakness lies in its feeble screenplay written by McGuire and Rod Blackhurst. The story unfolds with a frustrating lack of clarity, leaving us struggling to make sense of the disjointed narrative. That’s probably because it’s really a one-note premise not strong enough to support a feature length film, yet is carried out for over an hour and a half. Something about the pool water being fed from a spring below the property which carries the undead spirits of ancient beings gone missing hundreds of years back. Whatever. [insert eye roll]

The story meanders aimlessly without a clear direction, letting us know the filmmakers themselves were lost in the murky waters they attempt to navigate. Instead of building suspense, the movie relies on flimsy twists and preconceptions that fail to strike a chord. Yes, they were going for a Poltergeist, but missed it badly.Night Swim

Those who grew up around swimming pools will appreciate a few of the set pieces which come closest to raising the hair on our necks as the filmmakers attempt to exploit the horrifying fears our parents ingrained in our young selves before we were allowed to go in the water. Things like stay away from the pool drain lest it suck your innards out, don’t reach into the skimmer box, don’t run around the pool, and wait thirty minutes before swimming. All nice tries, but ultimately, that’s about all this thing has.

The characters in Night Swim are as one-dimensional as a poorly executed dive. Though competently acted, the performances can’t compensate for the badly written characters who fail to make us care. They are all just pawns to a man-eating swimming pool. It's a missed opportunity to effectively explore the psychological aspects of the thriller genre, leaving us with little investment in the fates of the on-screen personas.

Also sorely missing is any meaningful social commentary or anything important to say about family. To make us care, we must feel something towards the humans in the story. We don’t. As a result, the entire experience fails to make a splash in the thriller/horror genre. At least the studio knew what they had and released it in the doldrums of the dead movie season. For that decision, it deserves a star.

1/5 stars

Film Details

Night Swim

MPAA Rating: PG-13.
106 mins
: Bryce McGuire
Bryce McGuire; Rod Blackhurst
Wyatt Russell; Kerry Condon; Amélie Hoeferle
: Thriller | Horror
Everything you fear is under the surface.
Memorable Movie Quote: "I always wanted a pool."
Theatrical Distributor:
Universal Pictures
Official Site:
Release Date:
January 5, 2024
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:

Synopsis: A woman swimming in her pool at night is terrorized by an evil spirit.


Night Swim