Movie Review: ‘Swallow’ (2020) Is A Powerful Film

What would you do if you felt completely and utterly powerless? What if you significant other and in-laws controlled every facet of your life? How would you regain control? This is the journey that Hunter, the protagonist of the film Swallow finds herself going on and its a completely engrossing one.

This is the debut film from writer/director Carlo Mirabella-Davis. The film stars Haley Bennett (Kristy 2014), Austin Stowell (Whiplash 2014), Elizabeth Marvel (True Grit 2010), David Rasche (Men in Black 3 2012), Denis O’Hare (American Horror Story), Lauren Vélez (Dexter), Zabryna Guevara (All Good Things 2010), and Laith Nakli (The Wall 2017).

Synopsis for Swallow

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.


I knew very little about Swallow going in and Swallow absolutely blew me away. The main reason for this lies with actress Haley Bennett’s brilliant performance. If it wasn’t for this amazing performance, the film as a whole wouldn’t work at all. Thankfully Bennett is amazing and fearless. Hunter is a woman who is on the edge of breaking. Her life is completely controlled by her husband and his parents. She has no friends, no job, no real family to speak of and most of her waking hours are spent taking care of the gorgeous house that her in-laws have bought for her and her husband. Occasionally her husband will placate her with the illusion of control by agreeing to let her have a choice in something but in reality, she is little more than a servant in her own home.

This all escalates when Hunter becomes pregnant. This is the final straw that leads to Hunter becoming despondent and starts to make choices for herself, dangerous ones: She starts to swallow inedible objects. This sounds completely ridiculous but Bennett makes it work. She makes us sympathize with Hunter’s plight. It doesn’t really seem to make sense at first but as Swallow moves forward it starts to make more sense. The more anxious Hunter gets the stronger her compulsion. The more she does it the more she starts to take back control of aspects of her life and see through the facade that those close to her have built. As the film went on my sympathy turned to fear that Hunter might not make it out of the situation alive and that turned to me cheering her on as she started to discover a power and confidence that she has never known and discovers she matters. She’s more than her husband’s heir producing baby factory.

The final act of the film is tense as hell and the ending made me think about my views on things and how I might be wrong and that is the sign of a power film. Swallow is just that: Powerful.

Final Thoughts

Swallow is weird, disturbing, strangely uplifting and powerful. Build on a star-making performance from Haley Bennett, Swallow is easily one of the best films I have seen this year thus far. I can’t recommend this film enough. This film opens in theaters, VOD, and digital on March 6th, 2020.

About Charlie Cargile

Central Illinois based film journalist. Lover of cinema of all varieties but in love with films with an independent spirit. Elder Emo. Cat Dad. Metalhead.

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