The Midnight Swim review: a magically eerie tale about sisterhood.
I love movies that are different, so when I was offered a screener of The Midnight Swim, I couldn’t resist. The trailer is intriguing, and honestly, I had no idea what I was in for? Is this a horror movie? Is this a movie about the relationships between sisters? Is this fantasy?
The answer is: all of the above. The Midnight Swim is one of those independent films that looks at life, the world, family, and everything else differently, and that’s a good thing. It’s about three half-sisters who return to their family home after their mother has gone missing in the nearby lake. The three sisters think it might be fun to summon a local ghost, but afterwards, things start getting weird and their relationships start to go haywire.
At first, I was a little skeptical, because this another one of those films that uses documentary-style filming as its point of view. However, this point of view comes directly from one of the sisters, June, and we learn that the camera may be something she chooses to hide behind in order to separate herself from the world. Here, the technique doesn’t feel tired and like yet another one of those found-footage films that have been done to death. Here, you almost see each scene of the movie through June’s eyes. Not only does this style work with this film, but some of the shots are beautiful in their simplicity: the camera captures everything from a scarf dancing in the wind to the sisters in a weird musical lip sync number as they bond.
I also have to mention the beautiful acting work by the three actress playing the sisters: Lindsay Burge as June was quiet and strange, the sister who we learn is slightly unbalanced (although you see it in her eyes from the first time she appears on camera). Jennifer LaFleur as the oldest sister, Annie, brings a heartfelt moment to a scene where the girls are reminiscing about their Mom, and stumble upon both the good and bad. Aleksa Palladino is Isa, the sort of wild child of the bunch, but she has a depth in her expression that makes this character as viable as the others.
I was honestly expecting Paranormal Activity-sort of antics in The Midnight Swim, but this movie surprised me, especially with an ending that was foreshadowed, but I never really saw coming. It took this thing that was sort of spooky and somehow made it not only fantastical, but also magical. But even leading up to that, although it seemed nothing much was happening on-screen, everything was happening, as the sisters learned more about the mythology of the lake and themselves. Even in these moments of nothingness, there was something.
The Midnight Swim debuted last night in Montreal as part of the Fantasia Festival. Here’s hoping we’ll see it arrive in theaters (probably in limited release) and online soon here in the U.S.