While most of us are stuck inside and the cinemas are closed there is definitely a dearth of new movies to watch. However, there are some films available VOD and on streaming services and today I had the chance to look at the strange psychological thriller Swallow which can be rented on any streaming service. It’s definitely not a movie for everyone and I had mixed feelings about it but if you are in the mood for something different it definitely delivers
Swallow is directed by Carlo Mirabella-Davis and stars Haley Bennett in an outstanding performance as a woman who develops a habit of pica or eating non-edible items. The idea is she is a trophy wife who isn’t given much to do besides prepare a proper house for her husband. Once she becomes pregnant she feels a need for control over her body and starts eating items like marbles and tacks until she has to have surgery to remove them.
I will admit the visual of her eating all of this stuff is pretty gross and hard to stomach but it is nonetheless compelling because of the great performance from Bennett. Swallow is also beautifully filmed, mostly in one house. The way the director uses color and lighting builds up a chilling and effective atmosphere. This helps make the character’s choices feel more valid because the room is such a strange red color. Crazy house= crazy behavior.
Where the film doesn’t work is the last section. They try to give a backstory for why she is compelled towards this addiction, and I really didn’t like what they came up with. I liked it much better when her motivation was simply feeling awkward and out of control with a baby inside her. That was much more interesting than the revenge angle they took.
Swallow reminded me a lot of Todd Haynes’ film SAFE (which I love). Both films are about housewives who become obsessed with some aspect of their health. We then follow where the psychosis takes the lead characters. Because of the ending SAFE is more effective but they are similar in tone and style.
I debated whether to go fresh or rotten on Swallow because the ending was a bummer, but I still think Bennett’s performance is so strong and the movie is well made enough to recommend it. If the concept intrigues you give it a rental. Like I said: It’s definitely not for everyone!
5.5 out of 10