A backyard pool all but becomes a living, breathing entity in the horror film Night Swim.
The malevolent force does its worst early on before we settle into the main storyline, which loops back to what happened at the start.
The appearance of a toy boat seemingly operating on its own in the water in the dead of night marks the portent of doom.
It is summer 1992 and not long thereafter a young girl named Rebecca (Ayazhan Dalabayeva) is dead – having drowned.
Then we cut to the present day.
A family of four is about to move into the house where the incident took place, oblivious to its history.
Father Ray Waller (Wyatt Russell), a former pro baseballer, walks with a stick because he has been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.
It has been tough for him and his family.
As the kids were growing up, they were constantly moving as he changed teams and now he is facing this major health battle.
His doctor says water therapy could help.
When they take possession of the property, the pool is in a state of disrepair.
But he and the family are up for the challenge and soon enough the crystal-clear water is enticing.
Ray’s improvement is marked and significant.
At the same time, his wife Eve (Kerry Condon), son Elliot (Gavin Warren) and daughter Izzy (Amelie Hoeferle) are spooked.
When they enter the pool alone, they are easy prey.
They see disturbing images and are set upon.
Everyday life becomes a constant battle, as evil consumes Ray.
Based on a short film by Rod Blackhurst and Bryce McGuire, the latter has written the screenplay and directs.
Night Swim is genuinely spooky and intriguing until the third act, when it goes over the top.
I found myself invested in the plot line and in the family looking to start a new life.
Kerry Condon is compelling as the mother looking for stability.
Wyatt Russell’s uncertainty and ungainliness are understandable.
The sibling dynamic is familiar.
So, all the ingredients are in place and then the jump scares happen – slowly but surely.
All good to this point.
While there are twists along the way, the narrative takes a wild bend after Eve takes matters into her own hands.
That’s when the filmmakers decided to throw the kitchen sink at Night Swim and it all becomes preposterous.
More restraint could have maintained the level of credibility that had marked the film to that juncture, but that is not how it plays out.
Still, I might think twice before next dipping my toes into a backyard pool … or any body of water for that matter.
Rated M, Night Swim scores a 6½ out of 10.