Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: SWALLOW (VOD) (NOT PORN!!!)

No, I haven’t degraded to reviewing porn yet. There are still some things coming out streaming service wise or rental if the movie is (still in theaters) that I will review. SWALLOW is one of these new movies that you can rent (only $6.99, not this $19.99 bullshit, and I had a $3 promotion code to make it $3.99), and one I’ve been hearing a lot about on Twitter. It stars NOT JENNIFER LAWRENCE, Haley Bennett, and it is a psychological horror thriller about a newly pregnant wife that, after getting greatly stressed recently because of the strains of social placement her husband and in laws have put on her recently, develops a strange and dangerous compulsion to consume inedible objects in. What kind of objects might you ask? Well the poster shows her about to eat a fucking thumb tack (it gets worse). So if you can stomach that, which I barely could in the first place, you might find this movie a little interesting. Would I recommend it? I could get past the ick factor even though I dry heaved a couple of times, what I could get past was that the movie was too convoluted for its own good. It need to keep things simple, which it does for about the first 45 minutes, and then it throws on unneeded layers and reasoning to the story when it didn’t need anything else, thus producing a bold yet unearned ending that felt very, very forced.

Haley Bennett’s character is suffering from Pica, a compulsive eating disorder in which people eat nonfood items. And the film establishes very early on that the reason why she is doing this is because she feels the pressure of being in control when her husband and her in-laws hold her in high standard to do the things that they want her to do both mentally and physically. Basically she is being slowly mentally abused in a non threatening kind of way. But it is threatening to her, and when she eats these…sometimes dangerous, inanimate objects, she feels like she has that little moment of steering her life in the direction that she wants to go. It wouldn’t be spoilers really to say that the family discovers what she is doing really early on, so the mental abuse gets worse, and the whole film becomes a very interesting character study. But then, something is thrown into the film, a twist, if you will, that tries to take her whole reasoning of having Pica in another direction. Well, not an entirely whole other direction, it layers it on top of what we’ve already seen and nudges it about 10 degrees to the left. And it didn’t work for me. It’s kind of hard to talk about without revealing spoilers, but I did think the ending was bold, but I knew in my heart and in my mind that it didn’t earn that ending. I can say that the thing that was added to her madness felt tacked on, and it comes out during one of her therapy sessions with her therapist. When that whole angle was just suddenly brought up, I literally said out loud…”wait…what…why?” And then my interest in the film started to lag, where I was quite bored until the couple of minutes right before the end credits start to roll.

The only thing that keeps this film from sinking is the beautiful performance by NOT JENNIFER LAWRENCE, Haley Bennett. You might’ve seen her in supporting stuff like Music & Lyrics, Hardcore Henry, and the film adaptation of The Girl On The Train, but she’s the star here, and her acting makes us feel all the emotions her character goes thru and make us, the audience, want to help her. I am also glad the film didn’t do one other thing. While there is certainly an ick factor of swallowing inanimate objects, the film didn’t go all Saw on everyone. There are a couple of moments where you see some blood but it doesn’t go all gratuitous with it. You’ll probably still dry heave choke with some of what she swallows but you won’t be going and puking in the bathroom from any torture porn film like proportions. The direction is nice and neat. The shots are beautiful and clean, and then you get some of the blood from her character eating those objects which puts a satisfying stain on the picture and the brightness of the environment, metaphorically of course. It’s the ultimate story telling that didn’t work for me. It has a very solid first 45 minutes, and then things sort of go wheels off until the final couple of minutes. Who knows, it may work for you. It’s not like I completely ditched the film, but this would be the only time I would ever swallow the film whole.