REVIEW: The Swerve (2018) – FrightFest 2020 Digital Edition

dir. Dean Kapsalis.

Holly (Azura Skye) is alone. Not physically you understand, since she shares a home with her selfish husband and their mono-syllabic children, but in all the ways that matter. Seen only in terms of social capital by those around her (a wife to share a bed; a mother to make the meals) she is deeply isolated on an emotional and existential level.

When we first meet her things are already bad, and they’re getting worse. The casual ingratitude and implicit privilege with which her family carry themselves speaks volumes about years of neglect, whilst an excruciating dinner with her parents and sister indicates years of victimisation, the cost exacted on her mental health devastating.

Leaving the meal early Holly drives home, but when drunken yobs in a passing vehicle throw beer cans and misogynist slurs she swerves her car: an act that sends her own life careering off the road.

The trope of female madness is perhaps overly-common, but director Kapsalis (making an assured and confident debut) avoids reductive types, instead painting Holly with a pained and elegiac sympathy as a woman worn down to the bone. Skye too is deeply impressive, her gaunt expression sketching details that need no exposition, Holly’s interior world writ large in sallow eyes and hollow cheeks.

Full of empathy and heartache, this is a miserable yet convicting film that peers closely at those who are overlooked and invites – compels – the audience to see them too.

Tim Coleman

THE SWERVE has its UK Premiere at FrightFest 2020 Digital Edition on 31st August 2020.

Published by Tim Coleman

Film critic. Screenwriter. Academic.

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