Release Date: 02/14/23 [VOD]
Studio: Momentum Pictures
"Follows two best friends on their final night together, with a nightmare of drugs, bugs, and horrific intimacy."
OUR MOVIE REVIEW:
Swallowed is a film that's difficult to digest. The film follows two friends making a drug run across the Canadian border for some money, and their night ends up becoming worse and worse. The film comes from Carter Smith and stars Cooper Koch, Jose Colon, and Jena Malone. For Swallowed’s first half, it was honestly quite underwhelming - there were key elements I really wanted more from and the elements I found more interesting weren’t exactly what the film was prioritizing. Then something in Swallowed’s second half makes everything click and Swallowed ended up rolling off pretty well.
Koch and Colon as Benjamin and Dom are a fun charismatic lead duo - at times it sure comes across as comically bro-ey, but at points it's also genuinely sweet and tender. There are many things revealed about their dynamic, and how Swallowed plays out, I found it subverting key tropes of this dynamic in a clever way - especially on how these subversions factor into the main plot.
The other side to this is that the opening half is quite rough, the way it’s built up is a bit of a mixed bag. They’re smuggling this fictional drug that’s developed more and more as the film goes on. The tensions that first arise from the drug run gone wrong feel unexplored - it feels like Swallowed wants to do more with its body horror elements, and what we get of it, just really isn’t enough despite many effective shots and implications. Some ideas that Smith develops actually sit with you and actually picks at a weird hidden fear you didn’t know you had; I just wish there was more of it.
However, I feel Swallowed really comes into its own in its second half; bigger stakes get established, and honestly, key elements of Smith’s filmmaking really stand out. There’s a real right and claustrophobic look that the film gradually squeezes you more and more into. It’s a box that you’re trapped in with our main characters, and it was a great surprise to see this film grow in an incredibly fascinating way. For all of its faults, there’s a lot to take away from Swallowed. A sweet, charming and tender lead duo, with a claustrophobic and manic second half; it’s surely quite bumpy, but what makes Swallowed satisfying is Carter Smith’s tricks that end up making the viewer actually feel quite trapped.