Swim (2021)

Rating: C

Dir: Jared Cohn
Star: Jennifer Field, Brett Hargrave, Daniel Grogan, Andy Lauer

With the SyFy channel out of the business of original movies, David Michael Latt and his team at The Asylum had to find work elsewhere. They appear to have landed a gig providing content for streaming service Tubi, with this one of their earliest pieces of content, and part of their August 2021 Bitefest. There is a continuation of the lineage here, with the script written by Anthony C. Ferrante, who directed all six entries in the Sharknado franchise. This is a different kind of shark film however, intended to be taken seriously. Indeed, despite being two years too late, it’s probably closer to The Asylum’s mockbusters, sharing with Crawl its single word imperative title, and a story of a family trapped by rising floodwater, alongside a menacingly carnivorous creature.

The director here, Cohn, already has fifty directorial credits, including Halloween Pussy Trap Kill Kill and Atlantic Rim. This was one of eight features he helmed in 2021, according to the IMDb, so you should likely set your expectations accordingly. It’s the story of the Samson family, who have headed up from Los Angeles to their beach-house for a summer month of fun. Dad will be joining them, except he is stuck due to inclement weather. That storm is now hitting mom Lacey (Field), daughter Charlotte (Hargrave), son Tucker (Grogan), and gramps Noah (Lauer). Worse, a predatory shark, which has already eaten the caretaker and nibbled Tucker’s girlfriend, is swept into the house as the waters rise. 

It’s probably best for you not to look at this too closely. If you did, you might notice how, for example, there is supposedly a “storm” raging in the foreground, yet the sea behind the characters is placid and calm. The water effects are probably the biggest problem technically. The shark isn’t too bad, although it does appear rather inconsistent in size, and when it attacks, there is a reasonable amount of blood. The whole film is, however an exercise in privilege, with the shark concentrating its hunger on the working-class, old and African American characters, rather than the rich Samson nuclear family. It’s clearly intended to be a metaphor for capitalism! The shark is Elon Musk! Wake up, sheeple!

Sorry, thought I was on Twitter there for a moment. Once things get going, the pace is brisk enough to be adequately entertaining. Again though, best not ask too many questions, such as the way the shark is apparently able to climb the steps out of the basement, and batter against the door, even though water is limited to a trickle under it. On the other hand, I am prepared to cut some slack to a film where Mom gets the line, “Go upstairs, kids. I’m gonna fuck up a shark!” It could have leaned into this a little more, I feel, and it’s odd how Field only looks about five years older than her children. Maybe there’s something about sharks and immortality after all.

This review is part of Shark Week 2022: Chum Assembly Required.