Night Swim Is a Disappointing (And Shallow) Dip for Blumhouse

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Written By Sedoso Feb

There’s a problem in the Blumhouse… erm, house.

While their batting average is still respectable, the studio has begun to strain against audience tastes and expectations. Same-y films about a central group of characters where a weird, thinly obfuscated thing happens to them before a strong core shock… how many of their pictures can be summarized as such? It’s frustrating to see the studio behind greats like Get Out and M3GAN struggle at the box office and with critics.

Yet the hits just keep on coming — or don’t, in this case. Get ready for a dunk into ice cold mediocrity.

Night Swim is a bland entry into the Blumhouse catalogue centered on a haunted swimming pool set on destroying a young family. Bryce McGuire adapts his short (also called “Night Swim”) into his directorial feature debut. The film follows the Waller family: former pro-baseball player Ray (Wyatt Russell), forced to retire early due to multiple sclerosis; his wife Eve (Kerry Condon); and their children Izzy (Amélie Hoeferle) and Elliot (Gavin Warren). With Ray forced out of the league (temporarily, he hopes), the family is looking to buy a house and put down roots. Their chosen house happens to have a disused swimming pool in the yard. The kids are excited for a pool, and Ray will use it for physical therapy. Everyone is happy.

Until they have been in the house for a bit, and everyone starts seeing things in and around the pool. Eve takes a swim and thinks she sees Ray standing at the side of the pool, but he’s in bed. Next, Elliot is swimming when a girl named Rebecca tries to lure him into a crevice in the pool. (The audience knows her as the previous victim of the pool, from 1992 — her demise is in the opening scene.) Finally, while having a boy over while her parents are out, Izzy is nearly drowned by someone or something. Meanwhile, the pool seems to have a healing effect on Ray.

Night Swim is horror without any glaring flaws, but with no distinct personality. The script follows every single beat that a horror movie should hit. The jumps appear exactly where they should. This is the consequence of Blumhouse churning out same-y cookie cutter horror at an alarmingly higher frequency. Eventually, the film starts to become a delivery device for the expected shock — like the Poverty Row cheapies of the ’30s and ’40s.

Like many of those — low-rent whodunnits and noirs — the central threat here isn’t even all that interesting. Sometimes it’s a personified entity, which is when the creature is most impressive. But it also appears as a monster of its own, at which point it just feels like lazy character design. It’s another vague scare to keep you occupied for an hour or two, then move on.

You’d hope the cast could save it, but no, Night Swim’s generic blandness translates to the performances. The family dynamic feels like a syrup-dipped Hallmark card, with little to no tangible strife. No one mentions the haunted swimming pool until everyone has experienced it, so there is no one being called “crazy.” Even the two kids barely argued with one another. No tension — flaccid, weak, and unbelievable to the umpteenth degree.

I get the feeling that Blumhouse is trying to use the opening week of January to reclaim the success they saw with last year’s M3GAN (which opened the first weekend of 2023). M3GAN was weird and funny (on purpose), not to mention pathos for days and had characters with real problems. Plus, it had the dancing doll and her funky murder strut. Night Swim has some… black oil? A pool? Yeah, that’s not going to trend with the TikTok kiddies.

Blumhouse is a studio that — at this point — feels unclear in their aim. Night Swim is the precise problem of their output personified. It’s effective enough, sure, and younger viewers in the audience may find it somewhat thrilling. But overall, it’s a predictable, lukewarm kiddie pool that hits all the expected notes and none of the interesting ones. If Blumhouse wants to remain a relevant name in horror, they ought to funnel more resources into risky, thoughtful arthouse horror and not this shock-of-the-week faff.

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