The Swimmers (Film Review) (East Asian Film Festival)

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This thrilling film kept me on edge the whole way through. Based on a number of unfortunate events that happen in a school swimming pool, this horror film really entranced me throughout, with an unpredictable yet well executed story line and cleanly written script which made this a must-see film. Perth (Chutavuth Pattarakampol) and Tan (Thanapob Leeratanakajorn) are best friends and both swimming champions. The apparent suicide of Ice, girlfriend of Tan and lover of Perth hints at the perils to come in this mysterious and chilling story.

Before seeing this film, I expected it to be like the film, Piranha 3DD by the look of the advert and poster. Piranha 3DD is quite a shallow and pornographic film in my opinion. Whereas after watching The Swimmers, I was pleasantly surprised at how different it was in nature to Piranha 3DD and how it had a much deeper, meaningful and more believable concrete story behind it.

The use of special effects for the horror element was effective and very realistic. Although there was use of traditional blood and gore, I was taken aback by how even the act of consuming eggs was made to be disgusting and sickening. I left the film feeling satisfied and suitably freaked out, not just because of the horror, but also by how impossible events were constructed in a believable form by the subtle use of hints and suggestions which allowed me to be a detective and to attempt to work out what will happen next. I was hardly ever right about the next event or tragedy which was a revelation for me and kept me on the edge of my seat.

Some recurring themes were presented throughout including unexpected teen pregnancy and the fear of it, jealousy and competition. The rivalry for Ice and between who was fastest at swimming ran throughout the film. It was used as a metaphor with Tan always starting the race with triumph, but with Perth ending up with victory yet with sadness and regret.

The school swimming pool was made an object of doom as well as one of secret love. The light setup of the swimming pool was used to foreshadow events that were about to occur, this also builds up suspense and allows the viewer to become more involved. The lighting when tragic deaths and events were going to happen was always mainly dark which added to the mood, and no artificial lights were used, so these unfortunate occurrences are then associated with the pool itself. When the pool was slightly lit by the underwater pool lights, this meant that romance was about to occur. The rippling waves of the water reflected moving light on glistening skin which made the scene more secretive and romantic.

The actors were on the whole very believable. I grew to like and really empathise with Perth, however, I felt that Tan’s character was quite one sided and flat. Tan’s range of facial expressions were disappointing, being either poker faced or a smile, and detracted from the character’s actions and unfortunate events that he experienced.

The ending was cleverly constructed to allow for a sequel by leaving some questions unanswered, however I did leave the film feeling satisfied.

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