“Swallowed” is a film that delves into the world of body horror, serving up a concoction of discomfort and familiarity. Director Carter Smith sets out to remind us that everyday horrors can be just as terrifying as the more fantastical ones and uses science and biology to bring us back to our bodily fragility.
The film follows the story of Dom and Benjamin, two friends on Benjamin’s last adventure before he leaves for Los Angeles to pursue a career in gay porn. As they embark on a drug-running mission, they are forced to swallow baggies of a narcotic and transport it across the Maine/Canada border. However, what should have been a simple task quickly spirals out of control when they are met with opposition from a redneck at a rest stop.
Smith’s screenplay explores modern fears, particularly those faced by members of the LGBTQ+ community, to bring a heightened sense of horror to the film. The film’s two leads, Jose Colon and Cooper Koch, get a compelling and emotionally charged performance as they navigate the challenges of their situation, both internal and external.
While the film delivers on its promise of physical horrors, it falls short in its execution. The minimalist approach works well in some respects, but the film lacks the creative flourishes and depth that one might expect. Jena Malone’s character as a drug trafficker is underutilized (that’s two strikes against her in recent weeks, sadly), and the screenplay could have benefited from a more multidimensional tone.
However, the film does succeed in its representation of LGBTQ+ characters. Mark Patton, who had largely disappeared from Hollywood after coming out as gay, returns as the film’s villain, embracing his sexuality in a role that challenges the common trope of LGBTQ+ characters being written as victims.
That said, while “Swallowed” showcases the potential for body horror to explore deeper societal issues, the film could benefit from further development and a more nuanced approach.
Rating: 3.0 out of 5.0.
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