When I see a movie heralded with praise such as “brilliant”, “clever”, and “wonderful”, I’m automatically skeptical. Even more so when I hear that viewers were moved to tears. Why? Well, because I’m a skeptic and most of the movies I watch happen to royally suck.
So enter Swallow, a supposed psychological thriller with slices of body horror sewed throughout. This movie tells the story of Hunter, a seemingly happy housewife with the world at her fingertips. I mean, she literally has it made. She married into a wealthy family and has a handsome husband who loves her unconditionally while she sits home doing fuck all. As an added bonus, they’re expecting, and very excited to complete their family with that proverbial bundle of joy.
But of course, not everything is what it seems. Hunter isn’t really happy. In fact, she’s got issues. To the point where she suddenly starts to swallow random objects around the crib. Let’s see, there’s the shiny marble that started it all, a tasty tack, and a flavorful battery. Yumm-o! Apparently this is a real condition called pica. According to Hunter, as told to her therapist, swallowing random household items gives her a sense of power. Allows her to feel in control. Some of it even feels good in her mouth.
Obviously, what goes in, must come out, so I couldn’t help wondering if she would’ve been better off using those objects in reverse order. I imagine some backdoor shenanigans with said objects would be far more pleasurable than ripping your asshole apart to shit them out before sifting through said shit to retrieve and add them to your make-shift trophy case. Yeah. She totally did that. SMH.
Any way, by now, it’s clear that Hunter isn’t well. She eventually reveals that a quasi-traumatic past is the trigger for all this madness. You see, she’s the product of rape. And despite the fact that her mother, the direct victim of this horrific crime, soldiered on and carved out a decent life with a stepfather who treated her like his own, Hunter is driven to the brink of insanity by it. While she has a strong support system in her husband and in-laws, she ultimately flips out and feels the need to confront her sperm donor to learn what she always wanted to know “Am I like you?”. SMH.
Mental health is a real thing. I understand. Past traumatic experiences can randomly pop in the present and make life difficult. I get it. I just thought this movie failed at exploring this topic in detail and making a sympathetic figure out of Hunter. I actually felt more sympathy for the husband, who, I guess, is supposed to be the bad guy in this so-called toxic relationship. The son of rich parents who want to control every aspect of his life, wife included. Only his parents were very supporting of Hunter. It wasn’t until recognizing that her refusal to take accountability and seek treatment for her issues could put the unborn child’s life in danger that they started to become annoyed with the shenanigans. Still, none of them, the parents, nor their son, were truly ever the monsters this movie tried to make them out to be.
By the time Swallow wraps up, Hunter is seen smiling, seemingly on the road to redemption — alone and all without actually getting any real treatment for these massive mental issues. Meanwhile, hubby is left without a wife and thanks to her reckless bullshit, possibly without a child as well. But those are dots we are left to connect on our own accord. Cause fuck dude and how all this impacts him. It’s all about Hunter. She’s the victim here.
Overall, this isn’t the typical terrible movie. I mean it’s well paced and intriguing throughout. However, I absolutely loathed the message it tries to send and the passive aggressively pathetic means it uses to deliver it. Like I said though, it was “critically acclaimed”, so maybe I’m just an evil dickhead. Whateves. That said, the fact that Haley Bennett looks like a healthy slice of chocolate cheesecake with peanut butter sprinkles drizzled over it is not lost on me (DAT ASS DOE). And even though her character annoyed me to the core, that only means she played the role to a tee. So there. Praise from me.