Swim (2021) Movie Review – Tubi Butchers Another Shark Horror
A family gets trapped in their storm flooded vacation rental, tries to escape from a hungry shark that made it's way into the house.
Welcome to Knockout Horror. We are in the middle of January and bang in the middle of our attempt to wipe away those winter blues. We are checking out summery horror movies all month to try and remind ourselves that the wet and cold winter won’t last forever.
Another Low Budget Shark Movie
One of the goals I have set myself this month is to keep on watching low budget shark horror movies until I find a good one. I mean, let’s be real, we all love shark movies, right? Even when they are bad, they can be quite enjoyable. They also do a nice job of ticking all the boxes when it comes to summery horror movies. They have bikinis, beaches, sun, sand, surf; all of that crap.
Despite this, things are not going too well and I am getting a little bit nervous. I mean, I enjoy watching these movies and they make me laugh. But I just don’t think there are any genuinely decent low budget shark movies. It really didn’t start well with the piss poor From The Depths and I don’t think today’s movie is going to help matters much. The fact that it is made by Tubi isn’t exactly encouraging. They didn’t inspire a whole lot of confidence with Shark Bait, did they? So how does Swim hold up?
Another Floater From Tubi
Swim follows a fairly simple plot. Lacey (Jennifer Field) is heading out to a summer rental house to spend a week away with her “kids” by the sea. This is a tradition started by Lacey’s father, Noah (Andy Lauer), who is making the journey with them. When the group arrive, they notice that some much needed repairs on the house haven’t been completed. Meaning the basement is flooded and a vicious storm is rolling in. What originally starts as a relaxing getaway quickly turns into a complete nightmare. As the family are forced to fight off a blood thirsty shark that has made its way into their basement.
As you can probably guess, this is your usual shark movie by numbers. A group of people make their way to the sea, the sea is a bit angry at them being there, they get tossed into the drink and they spend the rest of the movie fighting off a crazed shark. Swim separates itself, a little, by having a group of varying aged characters who are part of the same family attempting to fight off the shark. And by introducing the shark into their place of residence. It sounds fucking stupid and it absolutely is.
So Little To Praise
It’s probably easier for me to get the good parts of this movie out of the way with first. Yes, it is that bad. Swim seems a little higher budget than most of these shark movies so I guess that is a plus point. I was relieved to see the 2.39:1 aspect ratio and everything was presented pretty nicely. At least to start with, anyways. Sharknado director Anthony Ferrante is attached as a writer and perennial terrible movie director Jared Cohn directs.
Jennifer Field is an extremely experienced actor and she seems pretty committed for the first 20 minutes or so. A fair amount of work has been done on the set and the actors obviously endured a decent amount of grief in the pool which they deserve praise for. Brett Hargrave spends a lot of the movie in a bikini top.. That’s gotta be a plus point for many, right? Daniel Grogan has leading man looks and bags of potential sometime in the future. And that’s really all I can come up with. I just don’t know, I am really reaching here. This movie is awful!
So Much to Criticise
This is just one of those films where you find yourself poking holes, ad nauseam, because there are so many holes to poke. It really is one thing after another. If I point out everything, the review will be 3,000 words long so I will highlight some of the more egregious things.
The first thing that strikes you is the age difference between the actors. Jennifer Field and Joey Lawrence play the parents here but Field was only 40 at this point and a fucking young looking 40 at that. She looks incredible; closer to her early 30s in fact, and way too young to be the parent of 18 and 16 year old kids.
Especially when said 18 year old is Brett Hargrave who looks mid to late 20s. And Daniel Grogan who you could place anywhere between 23 and 28. On top of that we have an, at the time, 56 year old Andy Lauer playing a geriatric bag of bones who can’t walk up stairs without huffing on an oxygen tank. It’s extremely jarring. The problems just keep on coming, though.
Dialogue and Effects are Awful
Dialogue is laughable. The actors quickly seem to lose interest in the movie and the performances begin to wane within 20 minutes. Lauer is particularly guilty of this and, frankly, came across as though he was improvising for most of the movie. I am fairly sure Field was prodding him every now and then to remind him to act. Much of this is down to the terrible script but I also think the confusing plot pacing and awful story was partly to blame.
Shark effects look awful. There are massive issues with scale with the shark changing size continually and the CGI is garbage. It is never once intimidating, the shark is dumb even by shark movie standards, and there is no tension at all. The sets are pretty terrible, as well. Looking like they are built out of foam and will fall apart any minute. Many scenes suffer from being poorly lit which causes massive ripple shadows on every surface and light glare at numerous points.
And The Issues Go On
The camera work is poor and the shot loses focus repeatedly. With the director often more interested in capturing Hargrave’s boobs in mid bounce rather than what is happening elsewhere. Something that provided my fiancée and me many laughs throughout but wasn’t exactly good for scene setting.
Continuity is a big issues with things moving around between shots and retakes being messily edited together. The scene where Lacey talks to her son as she puts things away in the fridge is a particularly good example of this. Mics and mic packs appear in shot. At one point hanging out of Hargrave’s bikini top and being clearly visible in her shorts. When the mic packs are not visible the sound quality takes a notable dip. On top of that, many of the scenes are dark beyond all comprehension or hidden behind the haze of far too much rain.
Obviously much of this movie was filmed in a pool and by the time the movie draws to a close, everyone looks varying degrees of miserable. I can’t even imagine how much of a stressful shoot this was. The director clearly doesn’t have a good handle on things and I imagine scenes were shot repeatedly.
The actors are constantly soaked while wearing little to nothing. And I can only imagine the entire thing was a close brush with hypothermia. I would never judge the actors for the performances they put in here as making Swim must have absolutely sucked. It’s a bad movie, it is poorly made and it looks like the performers were probably well aware of this fact as they made the movie.
Final Thoughts and Score
Swim isn’t as bad as From The Depths. That movie was a special kind of awful. And I wouldn’t say it was as bad as Shark Huntress either. But it is a very poor shark movie that fails at almost everything it tries to do. Poor effects, a dull story, poor pacing, an overly long runtime and actors who seem, frankly, miserable thanks to, what was probably, an awful shoot really drag this movie down. Barely worth a watch and doesn’t come close to being “so bad it’s good”.. Just skip this.