Shark Film Swim (2021) Has Soft Bite but Plenty of Laughs
First Non-Festival Release: August 13, 2021 (Digital/Streaming Platforms)
Director: Jared Cohn
Runtime: 86 Minutes
Starring: Joey Lawrence, Jennifer Field, Andy Lauer
Where to Watch: Check out where to find it here
A family makes their way to their beach rental home before a storm hits to celebrate their last summer together. Due to the negligence of the property owner, their rental is not up to code and unsuitable for habitation. Not wanting to miss out on money, he doesn’t warn the family about the structural integrity of the house. As he tries to track down a package that gets lost in the surf, he is eaten by a shark! The family will soon find that leaky pipes will be the least of their concerns as they must navigate the house during the storm and avoid the shark that has invaded their home to make dinner out of them.
Swim dogpaddles to the surface as a surprisingly fine shark thriller despite clear budgetary issues and limitations.
Pretty much everything in Swim is derivative of movies that came before it, but I’m strangely fine with that because I knew what I was getting into when I decided to watch it. It’s a fun B-movie that suffers from audiences taking it too seriously. Don’t get me wrong. It is a poorly written sharksploitation film with awful special effects, horrendous dialogue, and acting that’s more wooden than the brittle pieces of plywood holding together the fake luxury beach house, but it has heart.
They try incredibly hard to justify why this family would stay in that house despite it being a deathtrap from even before the shark comes into play. I still don’t buy it. This could have been avoided had they found other reasons to force the family inside. There are some good set pieces here and there, but they don’t translate well. Better decisions could have been made in bringing the story to life and while injecting more sensibility in the family and how they deal with the situation. Meanwhile, scenes with the dads trying to locate their families were horrifically cut to pieces and make no sense in the way they are inserted into the film. Plot-wise it’s a complete mess.
Visually uninteresting, Swim follows a typical made for Syfy formula of favoring the ridiculous over the artistic. Which is fair considering its budgetary restraints and the audience that will inevitably flock to see it. Moments that should be serious often come across as silly or downright hilarious, which can kill tension. Some of the action is frustratingly drawn out and not in a good way of releasing tension but in more of a “pretty much anyone with half a brain cell would have moved their body at this point” way.
What separates Swim from other bad shark movies turns out to be a perfect storm. Its cast gives serviceable if forgettable performances. Joey Lawrence is the most capable here and pulls off his often-ridiculous lines and makes them seem more appealing. The characters are likable even when they make bone-headed decisions that fly in the face of any amount of logic and when their depth amounts to one or two fun facts before they are inhaled by the bloodthirsty shark. Even the special effects aren’t as bad when you consider this film is made by The Asylum, which is notorious for bottom of the barrel production values.
Swim is not a film that I would consider good or well-done, however, it is way more entertaining than it has any right to be. With some surprisingly tense scenes and shocking production values, for The Asylum production company, Swim cobbles together an unremarkable yet watchable shark horror that stands out from the rest of the shiver of low budget shark movies that populate streaming service’s back catalogues. For those wanting a bit of B-movie fun that borrows heavily from the superior Alexandre Aja alligator film Crawl, Swim is a perfectly acceptable choice to make after they’ve exhausted the ten or so shark films that range from great to okay. No need to frenzy here unless you are a huge fan of the fin.
Overall Score? 4.5/10