Swallow

These days, there’s a movie for everyone. Movies for people who love killer clowns. Movies for people who love fancy British dudes. Movies for people who love explosions, talking animals, or Keanu Reeves. Now there’s even a movie for people who want to watch a woman swallow stuff. I didn’t know that that I was one of those people.

By the way, don’t worry, no spoilers here… the name of the movie is “Swallow.” The trailer shows her swallowing stuff.

In fact, I was nervous when I clicked “watch now” on this film. And, as you know, I’m pretty tough (when it comes to movies). I look for flicks that will push the limits, show me something, surprise me, give me a feeling.  I love twisted, strange, unsettling movies (cause I’m tough). But watching a lady swallow strange items, that’s seriously fucked up. I wasn’t sure I was ready. Would it be gross? Would there be barf?  Would there be gagging (by me)? I’m here to tell you that I watched “Swallow” and survived. No intense physical reactions, just a pleasantly trampled psyche.

Writer/director Carlo Mirabella-Davis generates a surreal style and energy that is consistent, strange and disconcerting.  Haley Bennett play Hunter a zombie-ish housewife who is overly devoted to her douchebag husband, and wants to connect with his evil parents. Although Hunter has all of the makings and motions of a happy homemaker, she’s dissatisfied. How do I know? Clue #1 she stares longingly out the window at the Hudson River, searching for an answer. Clue #2 she eats strange shit like marbles and needles to feel something.

This doesn’t go over well with high-strung hubby. From here the story spirals deliberately downward, leading to a surprising and powerful ending.

For most of the film I was a little thrown off by the dreamlike, slightly off tone. I mean, I loved it, but I wasn’t sure what it all meant. Why is this woman acting this way? Why do I care? Is she high? Or am I? But, about ¾ of the way in the film congeals in a fascinating way that paves the way for a deeper meaning.

Haley Bennett is great as a lost and lonely lady searching of meaning by “digesting” dangerous items. The set design was epic, the colors and objects are fantastic and detailed. Seriously, there was an article in Architectural Digest about this movie. So take my word for it. And you know the old architect credo: “nothing lights up a house like an unhinged housewife chewing on paperclips.”

Despite the downer energy, an occasional chuckle is conjured.  Like the scene when Hunter eats the pages of a self-help book. Or when she tells her husband, “I’m proud of myself – I did something unexpected today,” after secretly eating a marble.  Moments like that are funny and demented. Like most good things.

A horror movie that asks questions about what it means to be happy; why secrets make you powerful; and which household knick knacks are digestible, “Swallow” is more than it seems, a strange, startling film that wanders off the beaten path and never comes back.

I give it 17 out of 22.

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