Swallow movie poster
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Swallow
Swallow movie poster

Swallow Movie Review

The fact that I forgot to review Swallow by deadline says something about the psychological drama, a well-made and superbly acted little tale of emotional abuse that was not at all what I was expecting when I sat down on a rainy Saturday afternoon for what I hoped was going to be a gripping horror movie.

Expectations are a bitch, and admittedly Swallow was not what I was wanting on that Saturday. I had seen the trailer a few months earlier and had made note that this was one I wanted to see, but upon hitting play I had completely forgotten what the trailer suggested it might be. Swallow… about cannibalism? Something even more sinister? Food fetishes?

I wasn’t expecting or prepared for a drama about an emotionally repressed young woman (Haley Bennett), whose husband and in-laws look down on her as a nothing more than a meek, pretty creature, who resorts to swallowing painful objects—such as thumbtacks—to feel alive.

It’s a movie my wife, a mental health therapist, would have loved.

Bennett is terrific, giving the kind of subtle, under-the-radar performance that will never get the recognition it, or she, deserves. Her character’s transformation is absorbing, at least at first, her evolution from a quiet, soft-spoken, repressed token wife to the real, assertive human being she used to be impressive.

Carlo Mirabella-Davis, with his feature-length writing/directing debut, demonstrates incredible restraint and proper handling of his craft. The movie looks fantastic and, more importantly, is well-written, even if the “evil” husband/in-laws are one-dimensional to the degree to which it negatively affects the drama and tension of the story.

In the end, though, I simply found Swallow forgettable. The movie is captivating for a while as you attempt to ascertain which direction it’s going to go, but once it falls into its rhythm and its end goal becomes clearer, I began to lose interest. By the end, I simply didn’t care a whole lot about Bennett’s character. There just wasn’t enough for me to sink my teeth into.

Again, hoping for a horror movie and getting what Swallow is instead—yes, some could argue it is horror, but that’s a long, long stretch—automatically put the film at a disadvantage. But unless you find the protagonist’s particular trauma and her psychological response particularly compelling, it’s one I can’t quite recommend.

Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.

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