Sinister Screens

Swallow (2019) ★★★★




Hunter, a newly pregnant housewife, finds herself increasingly compelled to consume dangerous objects. As her husband and his family tighten their control over her life, she must confront the dark secret behind her new obsession.


As someone with a sensitive gag reflex, Swallow was one of the most unsettling movies I’ve ever seen. Even simple procedures at the dentist require significant effort due to my gag reflex. I have viewed what are widely regarded as the most disturbing films ever made, such as 120 Days of Sodom, A Serbian Film, Cannibal Holocaust, Nekromantik, Martyrs, Ichi the Killer, and Inside, without issue. However, due to my sensitivity, Swallow caused me to gag and retch during two scenes.

This is ironic since, at many references, this isn’t even considered horror. It’s mostly labeled a drama and thriller. Which goes to show: disturbing is in the eye of the beholder. This, in my mind, is horror. To me, it easily eclipsed any of the aforementioned disturbing films.

Swallow is a psychological drama film directed by Carlo Mirabella-Davis which explores themes of control, oppression, and the search for identity.

The story revolves around Hunter, a young woman who appears to have the perfect life on the surface, as she is married to a wealthy and successful businessman. However, as the film progresses, it becomes evident that Hunter feels trapped and unfulfilled in her role as a housewife. She begins to develop a compulsive disorder known as pica, which leads her to swallow various dangerous objects.

Haley Bennett made this film believable. Her character, Hunter, came across as wounded, melancholic, distressed and broken. Her actions were strange, sad, and increasingly disturbing.

The film delves into the complexities of mental illness, trauma, and the impact of societal pressures on individual autonomy. It also explores the ways in which individuals cope with trauma and reclaim their sense of self, even if it means engaging in self-destructive behavior.

Swallow is a thought-provoking exploration of the human psyche, personal autonomy, and the lengths individuals will go to in order to assert control over their own lives. It left its mark on me. This is a film that will linger well beyond its runtime.

Rating: ★★★★ (out of 5)

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