REVIEW: Swallowed (2022)

dir. Carter Smith

Celebrating his move to California to become a porn star, Ben (Cooper Koch) spends one last night partying with best friend Dom (Jose Colon). Concerned about his friend’s financial situation, Dom has a plan to earn some fast cash as a going-away present which involves making a mysterious stop. It’s here that the duo discover their situation is worse than a simple drug run as they’re forced to swallow mysterious bags to transport over the border.

While Dom’s actions are born from good intentions, his poor decision-making thrusts the friends into an escalating nightmare. Maintaining a tight focus on the pals as they’re forced to confront what’s been left unsaid between them, it’s easy to invest in the effortless chemistry between Koch and Colon.

Propelling the pair down this rabbit-hole is the fittingly named Alice, an ominous figure played effectively by Jena Malone. She’s an enigma that can switch between dangerous and sympathetic, yet she’s still the preferable option compared to her volatile boss (Mark Patton) whose salivating over Ben shows that the situation can still get worse.

Director Smith maintains the tension as the mystery unfolds, with the 4:3 aspect ratio keeping the frame as confined as the trapped leads. The reveal of the bags’ contents too will leave audiences squirming, although the story struggles to sustain its runtime. One wishes the body-horror elements were more bizarre and grimy, as without this grisly punctuation the story drifts to other sub-genres which are less engaging. Regardless, this is a solid thriller about two friends that find themselves in over their heads.

© James Rodrigues

⭐️⭐️⭐️

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