This psycho-thriller ‘The Swerve’ has slightly disturbed me. A debut film for Dean Kapsalis, I wasn’t surprised to learn he was raised on Bergman, Polanski, and Hitchcock. Mother of Movies previously covered this film for Cinepocalypse earlier in the year. It then played at Brooklyn Horror Film Festival and I urge you to see it if you get the chance.
I wasn’t expecting the emotional turmoil that this film brings but I was originally drawn to the title because of Azura Sky’s face. Who doesn’t like the alcohol-fueled comedy from 2001, 28 Days? That’s when I saw her last and I was keen to see her make up for 2008’s One Missed Call.
I’m pleased to say this film made up for it and more. It’s also one of my favorite films for 2019 and I can’t recommend it enough.
READ The Nightingale 2019. An Australian cinematic experience that will give you nightmares.
There are plenty of recognizable faces in this film about one woman’s relentless slide into a depression hole so big she has to blow up her life.
Holly looks like she has everything. A great job, a successful husband, two children, and a family she sees regularly. But there are signs that something is terribly wrong.
Zach Rand stars as Paul, a student of Holly’s. Rand was also in The Woman (2011), another punch in the face film that precedes Darlin’ also screening at the festival.
Ashley Bell plays Holly’s sister, a teetotaler with a narcissistic streak. Finally Holly’s husband, the guy with blinders on who enjoys gaslighting his wife from time to time, played by Bryce Pinkham who was part of The Good Wife series team.
All of these components don’t sound like they make a disturbing mix, but don’t be fooled. This is the type of story that creeps up on you like the flu you weren’t expecting. The bulk of the main story feels all too relatable from time to time, especially if you’re stuck in a rut. However, it’s in small but pragmatic moments that you notice Holly isn’t doing so great.
Just like the flat and drab color palette, everything seems to wash over her. Everything looks like it’s all going okay. Nothing to worry about really, except for the mouse. The mouse is the real problem here. Once Holly sees it, she throws all of her efforts into eradicating this tiny grey creature that could very well serve as the disease epicenter of the entire world.
This film builds into a quiet but unsettling snowball effect of totally effed up decision making. Split-second decisions, no less. With each and, every single one things just get worse and worse. The films score a decidedly dialed back affair, reminiscent of any great horror film, that suits the tone perfectly and poignantly.
There’s No Aphrodisiac Like Loneliness
Is it the medication that’s making her crazy? Is it the mouse, has it given her rabies? As Holly tries to hold the last stitch of her seemingly normal life together, one wrong turn, literally, tips the edge of reason.
This is a film that will test your patience, as it feels like nothing has really happened until her behavior becomes so changed that it’s hard to catch up with the why’s. It’s easy to put some of her more confronting actions into the same box that her husband puts her confession into. She obviously needs her medication checked.
Will it be like this forever? — Quote from Holly
Where’s Your Head At?
The hardest part to contend within the narrative is whether you should feel sorry for Holly. At first, you might but then as she wantonly abuses the trust of one of her students, it’s enough to knock that compassion clean out the window. The only reason I could come up with is that she simply wanted a grenade to fix what she couldn’t. She wanted to do something that would see her punished when it seems she wouldn’t be punished for what she had already done.
Holly paints the perfect picture for a portrait of not just depression but of loneliness. In her is a bleakness that gives this film an unforgiving texture and I had trouble not thinking about it for days after.
The closing scenes may make you wish you’d never watched this. But, this is a story that needs to be told, and it’s done with a steady hand. Holly makes one last feeble unthought-through attempt to solve her issues all by herself, And perhaps you’ll anticipate the outcome.
It’s not the final scenes that make this so excruciating as much as realizing that she only ever wanted to punish herself.
This is not a film for those wanting a light drama. This is the heaviest kind of story with the weightiest of burdens.
I give The Swerve
4 I didn’t enjoy this but it’s brilliant out of 5
The Swerve is Dean Kapsalis’s debut feature film. I’m literally petrified as to what he might come up with next. This is a man to watch.
The Swerve had its world premiere at Cinepocalypse, June 15th at 4:15 pm. at The Music Box Chicago.
Director/screenwriter Dean Kapsalis
Producer Tommy Minnix
Running time 95 min
Year of production 2018
Country of Production United States
Mother of Movies recommends something sweet to lift your spirits when you’ve finished watching it. You’ll need something sweet to calm your wrangled nerves.