The Swerve is a psychological drama written and directed by Dean Kapsalis. In his first feature film, Kapsalis presents a deep character study of a descent into mental insanity. It is a harrowing and disturbing film that showcases a promising debut from newcomer Kapsalis.
The Swerve has a laser focus on its main character, Holly (Azura Skye). Holly is a wife, mother of two boys and a literature teacher. She is a competent cook and by all indications, appears to be living the ideal life. Her husband Rob, is up for promotion to regional manager of a supermarket chain, for example. But things are not as they seem.
A seemingly innocuous encounter with a mouse triggers the surfacing of various psychological scars in Holly that take its toll on her for the rest of the movie. It is gradually revealed to us that all is not well with Holly. For one thing, she is suffering from insomnia and the film depicts her regularly consuming sleep meds, which seem to have no beneficial effects.
Kapsalis does an excellent job on keeping the camera on Holly throughout the film. In fact, there are no scenes in which Holly does not figure at all. So even when other characters are talking, the camera never strays from Holly and her reactions. This produces an isolating and depressing effect, highlighting Holly’s alienation from her family and even herself.
Thus, story-wise, this focus on Holly leaves many plot questions open. As a matter of fact. there is hardly any exposition whatsoever. All the information the audience is able to glean comes from dialogue mainly. No flashbacks, no explanations just events.
Compounding this lack of story clarity is that Holly is prone to hallucinations as well. Thus, there are scenes where what she seems to have witnessed may not have happened at all. Only in her fractured mind.
Azura Skye delivers an emotional, gut-wrenching performance. As mentioned before, the camera never leaves her and there is a lot to be seen from Skye’s outstanding work. Holly’s deteriorating mental state is captured wonderfully by Skye’s mannerisms and facial expressions. A tour de force that should not be missed.
The Swerve is definitely a horror story, more terrifying maybe than supernatural phenomenon, as what happens to Holly is terribly real. Be prepared to be disturbed.
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