“Night Swim” stars Wyatt Russell as Ray Waller, a newly-retired baseball player who suffers from a degenerative illness and moves into a new home with his wife, Eve (Kerry Condon), daughter, Izzy (Amélie Hoeferle), and young son, Elliot (Gavin Warren). That new home comes with a suitably foreboding swimming pool which has clearly remained unused for years. Ray is determined to restore it to its former glory, but as the official synopsis explains, “A dark secret in the home’s past will unleash a malevolent force that will drag the family under, into the depths of inescapable terror.” If that isn’t enough to convince you “Night Swim” is a 2024 horror movie worth watching, just check out the original short film, which manages to build an effectively creepy scene within its less-than four-minute runtime with clever use of a submerged perspective.
But while that short was undeniably creative and well-executed, it didn’t give writer/director Bryce McGuire much to work with when transforming his idea into a full feature. Speaking to /Film’s BJ Colangelo, McGuire explained that he was eager not to just “stretch it out for an hour and 40 minutes,” instead setting out to ask “Does this want to be a feature? Is there actually more story to tell here?” He added:
“I’m just not interested in doing it if there’s not enough there to grapple with — enough there, enough story, enough mythology, enough of a villain there to deal with. So that was the starting place. ‘Should we do this?’ And then, for about three years, the answer was, ‘No.'”
How did McGuire eventually figure out how to expand his neat idea into a full movie? It had something to do with the character of Ray and his illness.