Hayley Bennett is Hauntingly Good in Swallow
Have you ever felt invisible in plain sight? You know, like when someone ask you a question and in the middle of your answer they inadvertently change the subject? It makes you feel like you don’t matter or that maybe they were being slightly polite to even pose a question in your direction at all. That’s exactly how Hunter (Hayley Bennet) is feeling throughout Swallow. As a newly pregnant housewife, Hunter finds herself compelled to consume dangerous objects ranging from marbles to thumbtacks on the regular. Is she just needy for attention or simply extremely mentally disturbed? As her husband, Richie (Austin Stowell) and his parents tighten their control over her life, she ultimately confronts the dark secret behind her new obsession.
I won’t lie to you, when I tell you this is a particularly strange film, but intriguing to the point of no return. Mostly due to the performance of Hayley Bennett. She has the voice and face of an angel, but her actions are anything but innocent. Hunter is the quintessential abused woman, whose only control is asserted in the process of attempting to harm herself – to no avail. Verbally abused and ignored beyond pale by not only her condescending hubby, but his parents as well seems to be the impetus for her actions. Imagine being asked what you do for a living and having your mother-in-law laugh in your face? On top of everything else, you feel trapped and swallowing objects seems to be your only controlled way out.
One of the most telling moments of her desire to flee is when Richie discovers his silk tie has been ironed and has a fit. Instead of just changing the tie, he drones on about how he needs to change his shirt and violently rips it off leading you to believe that maybe Hunter has been on the other side of that anger at some point more often than we are led to believe. It’s only after she runs away and ends up at a child’s birthday party, does the audience discover the origins of her odd behavior.
Swallow is definitely a cautionary tale in what happens when you find yourself with too much time on your hands. It’s like my Great-Grandfather use to say ‘…an idle mind is the devil’s workshop.’ With fantabulous performances from Hayley Bennett, Austin Stowell, Elizabeth Marvel and David Rasche and wonderfully, and aesthetically interesting cinematography from Katelin Arizmendi. Produced by IFC Films Swallow is definitely worth a watch and available to stream now via Video On Demand platforms.