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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Melodrama > Family > Surrealism > The Midnight Swim (2014/Candy Factory DVD)

The Midnight Swim (2014/Candy Factory DVD)

Picture: B Sound: B Extras: D Film: B

Sarah Adina Smith's The Midnight Swim (2014) is an interesting piece on feminine loss and is equal parts surreal and experimental. In addition, this is the best use of POV/found footage-style filmmaking I've seen in quite a while. Smith's style here is inspired by David Lynch and Terrence Malick in that its style is both creepy and realistic - not spelling anything out for the audience but letting their own imaginations take form.

Three Sisters, June, Annie and Isla (Palladino, Burdge, Lafleur) reunite when their mother disappears in her lake-side home off of Spirit Lake. June decides to document the trip on camera which documents the three sisters seeing each other in quite a while, stepping into the shoes of their deceased mother, and trying to decide what to do with this property. Dead birds start showing up, footage strangely gets recorded that nobody shot, behaviors start to change and a pull towards the lake seems to be irresistible to June - who even goes out when everyone is sleeping for a swim. The last act of the film leaves a lot up to interpretation and the ending comes out of nowhere, which will madden some but I found it to be pretty clever. There are many ways this movie could go and it never really takes the safe route.

From a filmmaking standpoint, I would say that this is quite an accomplishment - this low budget movie looks and sounds like it costs millions of dollars with breathtaking cinematography and editing, though I'm betting it didn't cost much under a million to produce. With no big name actors, it's astonishing how the film feels organic and natural throughout with breakout performances by Aleksa Palladino, Lindsay Burdge, and Jennifer Lafleur. I totally bought that these girls are related and have a long history with one another - which shows that the Director got the performances out of them that she needed. There's also a cameo by Donnie Darko (and highly recognized character actress) Beth Grant, plus an interesting performance by Ross Partridge as well. A winner of several film festivals and a critical hit, The Midnight Swim isn't a horror movie or a thriller... but something in-between.

Presented in standard definition with a widescreen aspect ratio of 1.85:1, the film looks and sounds fine for the DVD format. Seeing that the film is mainly meant to be a documented experience, the absence of high definition in this particular release isn't too maddening, though it would benefit to pick up some extra details. The sound mix is a standard, lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 track, that also sounds fine for the format.

Aside from the awesome slipcase packaging and cryptic menu, the disc has no extra features.

If you're looking for off-beat and cerebral, then I would give this disc a spin.

- James Lockhart



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