Review: Housewife has a secret in disturbing, riveting 'Swallow'

Haley Bennett gives one of the year's best performances in this quiet thriller, available on demand

Adam Graham
Detroit News Film Critic

Haley Bennett is mesmerizing in "Swallow," a gripping psychological thriller in which she plays a housewife who develops an uncontrollable urge to ingest small household items. 

It starts with a marble and leads to a push pin, and before she knows it she's taking down paper clips, batteries and even tiny screwdrivers. The compulsion is known as pica, and what's behind it is one of the curveballs in writer-director Carlo Mirabella-Davis' fascinating, peculiar and disturbing debut feature.  

Haley Bennett in "Swallow."

Bennett ("The Girl on the Train") plays Hunter Conrad, who is newly married Richie (Austin Stowell), an extremely well-off young exec who works for his wealthy father. 

Hunter is an extremely bored housewife, spending her days thumbing through apps and arranging and re-arranging pillows in the living room of their ultra-modern home. Tensions between Hunter and Richie slowly reveal themselves; he snaps at her for ironing a silk tie, making her feel even more useless. 

So she begins swallowing things. It starts as her tiny secret, the one thing she has for herself. But when she becomes pregnant, complications arise, and Richie and his parents attempt to gain control over the situation. 

"Swallow" is Bennett's show: she plays delicate, doting and disturbed with a fragility that is hypnotizing. Mirabella-Davis slowly peels away the layers to her character, exposing the roots of her affliction and taking the story in a surprising direction. 

Nathan Halpern's piano-based score lends the film a classical feel that underscores its odd beauty. "Swallow" is difficult to digest but isn't soon forgotten.




Rated R: for language, some sexuality and disturbing behavior

Running time: 95 minutes

Available on VOD