Swim (2021) Review
It was bound to happen. Netflix started showing original movies, then Amazon, and now Tubi has followed suit with Swim. But given their budget and free with commercials format don’t expect The Irishman or The Tomorrow War. This shark in the house film was made by The Asylum and their frequent director Jared Cohn (The Horde, Devil’s Revenge) from a script by Anthony C. Ferrante (Sharknado, Zombie Tidal Wave), so don’t expect Jaws either.
The Samson family Lacey (Jennifer Field, Choke, Body of Night), her father Noah (Andy Lauer, Screamers, King of the Lost World), and kids Charlotte (Brett Hargrave, Weedjies: Halloweed Night) and Tucker (Daniel Grogan) are renting a beach house. Dad Hudson (Joey Lawrence, Blossom, Money Plane) had his flight cancelled due to bad weather and is driving down.
The bad weather gets there before he does and the storm whips up waves that flood the house. They also wash in an uninvited guest, a shark that’s already acquired a taste for humans.
If this sounds a bit familiar it should. Alexandre Aja did it a couple of years ago with gators and called it Crawl. And the Australians did it nearly ten years ago with Bait which put sharks in a flooded supermarket. But if the plot was original it wouldn’t be an Asylum film, would it?
Getting things off to a good start Cohen tosses a couple of disposable characters to the shark even before it gets in the house to break up all of the first act’s talky scenes. And it’s a good thing because even by Asylum standards, the dialogue in Swim is bad, “We have to get Becky to the hospital! I don’t want her to die!”. The weather however is worse, shutting down the Pacific Coast Highway and stranding our heroes plus the shark bit Becky (Addison Bowman) in the house. And Dad on the highway.
Since The Asylum has plenty of stock footage of storms, Swim gives us some disaster movie tropes such as a downed utility pole and live wires landing on the family’s SUV as an added bonus. There’s also a fairly well-done rescue attempt later in the film.
Parallel to the struggle in the house, we have Hudson and Becky’s father Tad (Rib Hillis, Psycho Storm Chaser, Piranhaconda) caught in the storm and trying to save their loved ones. Unfortunately, Swim doesn’t do much with this subplot except establish that the two are out there before they finally show up at the house in the final act.
The effects are, of course, CGI and the quality varies greatly from scene to scene. Some of the shots of the shark are effective, others are bad, laughably so on a couple of occasions. The attacks put plenty of blood in the water, but the gore is kept underwater and off-screen, a definite disappointment. CGI water effects are always problematic, and Swim is no exception. At either end of the spectrum, whether water coming in under doors or giant waves rolling in, the results are unconvincing.
The cast really doesn’t have much to do except look scared and scream a lot, which they do well. Swim also gives Hargrave plenty of excuses to bend over and look like she’s about to pop out of her bikini top. For the other team, Grogan is shirtless for pretty much the entire film. As expected, the top-billed Lawrence is barely in the film until he gets to play hero at the end.
It’s nothing we haven’t seen before, but it is competently done, certainly better than the director’s last film featuring finny fiends, Shark Season. It’s actually better than a lot of his films, though that’s not exactly high praise. In the end, Swim is an acceptable time killer, especially if Tubi is available in your location and it’s free. I’m not sure what the plans are for its distribution elsewhere.