Director Bryce McGuire says the concept for Night Swim came from his childhood fears – and Jaws.
“Swimming pools are fucking haunted,” McGuire tells GamesRadar+. “They can be, at least. I’ll say this in my childhood imagination, the swimming pool contained deep and dark secrets that I was convinced were rising beneath me to grab my skinny flailing legs as a, you know, nine-year-old boy when the lights went out. And so it was just that kind of irrational childhood phobia that I felt after watching Jaws and then going into a pool and just being totally convinced that I was not alone – and realizing other people had their own versions of that.”
Night Swim was first conceived as a four-minute short film uploaded to YouTube in 2014 and submitted to various film festivals before ultimately going viral. The original short, directed by McGuire and Rod Blackhurst, follows a woman (Megalyn Echikunwoke) swimming alone at night who suddenly encounters a malevolent presence.
The feature-length adaptation, the first released under Blumhouse and Atomic Monster’s new joint banner, follows former baseball player Ray Waller (Wyatt Russell) who, after being forced to retire due to illness, moves his family into a new house in an attempt to settle into a normal life. Not long after, unexplained supernatural events begin to occur that surround the backyard swimming – which is possessed by a malevolent spirit. The cast includes Kerry Condon, Amelie Hoeferie, Gavin Warren, Nancy Lenehan, and Jodi Long. McGuire also penned the screenplay, which is based on the original story he wrote with Blackhurst.
“The pool is fun. The pool is sexy. We coveted the kids who had pools and wanted to party at their house and do the sleepovers over there. But you had the stories about the kids that got their hair caught in the drain at the bottom of the pool and drowned, or slipped and knocked their head and were found the next day floating face down,” McGuire continues. “There was a fear and a reverence. As much as you can try and tame and domesticate this wild element, the pool is still water. We still evolved out of the water. We don’t belong in water. We’re not an apex predator in water. The water can be very humbling. Even in the safest, most well-decorated, romanticized version of that water. It’s still water.”
Night Swim hits theaters in the United States on January 5, 2024, moved up from its original January 19 release date. For more, check out our list of the most exciting upcoming movies in 2024 and beyond.