BY: AMANDA GUARRAGI
Swallow is a film about a young housewife named Hunter (Haley Bennett). She appears to be in a “perfect” marriage, with her new husband Richie (Austin Stowell) and she finds out that she is pregnant with their first child. Hunter is then haunted by her traumatizing past and goes on a journey of identifying who she truly is. Carlo Mirabella – Davis addresses the importance of a woman’s agency and how to help those who suffer from mental illnesses.
Mirabella – Davis created a perfect atmosphere by composing the frame with some symmetry. There were moments where everything in the room was perfectly aligned and it gave the viewer a sense of calmness. There were plenty of perfect shots and then there would be an edit with something violent or bloody. The editing would almost disturb the peace and remind the viewer that, even though it looked perfect on the outside, something was terribly wrong on the inside.
The idea of perfection is toyed with in Swallow and Davis did it in such an interesting way. Davis created perfect frames but also challenged the ideal perception of perfect beauty in Hunter. Hunter seemed almost submissive to her husband Richie and would cater to him, she never wanted him to resent her or hate her in any way. She would dress up for him and had a full course meal prepared, when he came home from work. Ideally, Hunter was the perfect housewife for Richie, but wanting to be perfect for him, also made her lose any control she had for herself.
Haley Bennett gave a fantastic performance as Hunter. Majority of her performance lies in her expressions and her eyes. On the outside she maintained perfect composure, but on the inside, behind her eyes, you could tell she was struggling with something. Hunter felt like she was being controlled, so to regain this control on her body, she began to swallow small objects. As Hunter’s story unfolds, we see her become her own person and by the end of this film, she has full control over who she is.
Swallow is a strong film and Davis dives into a story we haven’t seen before, especially executed in this way. I wouldn’t even classify this as a horror; instead it felt more like a psychological thriller because her psychosis was rather interesting. When Hunter discussed her trauma and addressed her past, she almost seemed childlike when she told her story. It’s a good watch if you enjoy the psychology of human behaviour.