As the sisters decide what to do with the property and reminisce about the times they spent with their mother, June records the entire visit on her camera, documenting the experience just as you would any family gathering. This is our window into the grief, pain, and mystery of THE MIDNIGHT SWIM. The cinematography feels less like a documentary, but more as if we are voyeurs peering into the intimate details of this family's life. It toys with the idea of found footage, but does so in a sense of videotaping any family get-together, this one just being a bit more bleak than most. Things move in and out of frame, with focus and blur, and it mimics our attempts to understand the world we've stepped into. The audience is not meant to understand the pain of this sudden and tragic death, but is meant to try and understand the strange occurrences that soon plague the sisters and their mother's house since their arrival.
Dead birds begin appearing each morning, a shawl found in the lake begins to act as a character on its own, and mysterious footage of the lake begins to appear on June's camera. It's difficult to distinguish if these events are otherworldly, or just a dangerously unhealthy coping mechanism from one of the three sisters. Despite the supernatural elements littered throughout the film, it's difficult not be struck by how familiar it all feels. Our three sisters are established first and foremost by their personalities; as their appearances, speaking patterns, and physical mannerisms are somewhat identical. There is one moment in particular where the sisters seem to be truly bonding for the first time on this trip that quickly takes a sharp left into a heartbreaking moment of sorrow. This moment is gut-wrenching not because it is throwing the audience into a world of fictional horror, but instead forcing us to connect with the painful truths of reality. Sarah Adina Smith has showcased immense talent with THE MIDNIGHT SWIM and has offered a completely unique style of presenting cinematic psychodrama. Her etherial and mesmerizing debut is not to be missed, and will likely stay with viewers long after the credits have rolled.
THE SWIM arrives in cinemas and on VOD June 26th from Candy Factory Films.