Night Swim (Blu-ray)

A family moves into a new home, unaware that a dark secret from the house's past will unleash a malevolent force in the backyard pool.

April 8, 2024 7 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

In 1975 director Steven Spielberg made a movie that made tens of millions of people (myself included) afraid to go in the ocean. That movie, of course, is Jaws and it’ll likely never be equaled in that genre. Turning the focus to, well…me – I’m a swimmer. I do it for fitness and in the comfort and safety of my gym. Even though there’s not a reason in the world to fear a shark attack, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t look down the pool while underwater and just…wonder. That’s an unsubstantiated fear, of course, but I guess it’s just the way I think. Turning the focus to the film at hand and we’ve got an intriguing concept – a haunted swimming pool? I’m sure something like this has been done before, but given that this is a product of the Blum House production company, it was more or less intriguing. Wyatt Russell (son of Kurt) and Oscar nominee Kerry Condon (The Banshees of Inisherin) headline the cast. All the elements are there, but does it sink or swim?

Ray Waller (Wyatt Russell) is an ex-third baseman for the Milwaukee Brewers. He and his wife, Eve (Kerry Condon) are new homeowners and he’s dealing with complications from M.S. They figure that having a pool in the backyard will help him with his water therapy. Their daughter, Izzy (Amelie Hoeferle) and son Elliott (Gavin Warren) are pretty fond of it as well. And at first, of course, things go swimmingly (sorry, couldn’t resist). Ray seems to have a miraculous recovery, though it’s not long that the other members of the family start seeing odd figures in and around the pool. Of course we know from the film’s prologue what really happened and the rest of the movie plays on that. Obviously things go from bad to worse and it’s an all out war on the swimming pool. Yes, you read that correctly.

I can see why this film was green lit. It is an intriguing concept that, in other hands, could have been pretty scary. Yes, maybe even up there with Spielberg’s acclaimed film. But it feel into the trap of being predictable and, well, almost laughable. There’s a scene in the movie in which a “monster” tries to grab one of the characters. The monster in question looks like Grimace from McDonald’s. Yes, really. If you want more on that, there’s a feature dedicated to how they were created. I’m pretty sure I could have done something better with the tools at my disposal. At any rate, this one didn’t manage to avoid any of the pratfalls and, yes, even the ending is one that you can spot coming a mile away.

Video: How’s it look?

Being a new movie, we can certainly have a good idea as what to expect visually. And this 2.39:1 AVC HD encode certainly lives up to that. Given the film’s dark theme, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows, but we’re treated to some very colorful outdoor scenes that are bursting with the entire spectrum of the rainbow. Clarity, as expected, is top notch showcasing razor sharp details (you can see each individual hair on Wyatt Russell’s bears) while contrast and black levels seem on the mark as well. In short, it’s indicative of what we’ve come to expect for new films on the format and it should please viewers.

Audio: How’s it sound?

The included DTS HD Master Audio mix has a few times to shine, notably during the film’s final act. I’ve always been amazed at how much of an immersive experience it is when something takes place underwater. We get a few of those moments and it’ll be a while before I go and grab a quarter off the bottom of a pool. Vocals are in top shape with well-defined sonics. Surrounds aren’t too terribly active, but do chime in from time to time. It’s not the best-sounding film out there, then again it wasn’t meant to be.

Supplements: What are the extras?

  • Audio Commentary – Co-writer and Director Bryce McGuire sits down for a chat about the film, his inspiration about the plot and working with the crew, in and around water and so forth. If you’re a fan of the film, this one’s interesting.
  • Masters of Fear – Horror legends Jason Blum and James Wan discuss why they chose to collaborate on this project, what drew them to this story and why first-time director, Bryce McGuire, was the perfect man for the job.
  • Demons from the Depths – Dive into the world of special effects and learn how the creatures were created to withstand the trials of filming underwater.
  • Into the Deep – Go beneath the surface and hear from cast and crew on the physical and technical work that went into creating a movie that contains so many underwater sequences.
  • Marco Polo – Director Bryce McGuire breaks down the pivotal scare scene and how the film took a simple children’s game and turned it into a nightmare.

The Bottom Line

I won’t say that I had high hopes for this one, I wanted to like it. I want to like all the films I see. But this one derailed rather quickly. The concept was good, but the film’s PG-13 rating combined with the film’s predictable ending made it one that had me checking my watch several times. Universal’s Blu-ray looks and sounds good and comes with enough supplements to warrant a purchase if this is indeed up your alley.

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