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Saturday, March 28, 2020

Review: Swallow

Director: Carlo Mirabella-Davis
Screenplay: Carlo Mirabella-Davis
Year: 2020

The world of psychological disorders is wider than what any person can imagine unless that person is a professional or a scholar of that area. There are disorders as common as anxiety and post-traumatic disorders and other less known as the obsession for ingesting foreign objects. Pica is the name that was given to the psychological disorder that leads people to ingest non-nutritive objects and its more dangerous form is known as acuphagia, where the ingestion involves sharp objects.

Hunter is a housewife with a relaxed but boring life together with her wealthy husband. When she discovers she is pregnant, the impulse of swallowing foreign and dangerous objects starts growing in her. Once her new behavior is discovered, her husband and family start to watch her closely and Hunter must face the dark secret behind her new obsession. 

Beyond exploring a psychological disorder, “Swallow” explores intrusion and taking control of your life and can act as a metaphor for both concepts. It is not until Hunter discovers that she is pregnant, something that it seems like she didn’t want and can even be considered as the most severe case of intrusion, that she starts having this strange obsession of swallowing objects. For her bad luck, this only brings more intrusion to her life through her in-laws, who have always been more present in their relationship and decisions than necessary.

Carlo Mirabella-Davis, in his first full-length feature as director and screenwriter, latches into the show-and-don’t-tell rule and finds in Haley Bennett (“The Girl on the Train”) the perfect medium to achieve it. Bennett’s interpretation is excellent and always convincing in the message she wants to send and in representing everything that goes through the protagonist's head, especially one with such a strange condition. Particularly, she is able to convey the emotions of her characters, them being psychological or physical and this is of great importance in the character development, as well as in the outcome of the movie.

“Swallow” also surprises with its cinematography and artistic value in general. Mirabella-Davis decides to lay his dark plot on top of a rich color palette juxtaposed with the mental condition of the protagonist. He also excellently uses tempo to move the plot at a good rhythm, at the same time that he creates enough suspense in the most uncomfortable scenes and with little he can say plenty.

“Swallow” is the impressive debut in a full-length feature of writer and director Carlo Mirabella-Davis where he showcases his great talent for storytelling, backed-up by the equally impressive acting of Haley Bennett. My only critique is that, even with how dangerous pica and acuphagia conditions can be, “Swallow” instead of a horror movie, as it has been classified, plays like a psychological thriller. However, the plot, its artistic value, and the awesome interpretations make this an excellent movie in its genre.

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