a critiQal film review Swimfan (2002)

  • DVD
  • Vudu

Plot: Ben (Bradford) has a pretty good life. He's got a wonderful girlfriend, Amy (Appleby); he's got a chance to to impress some Stanford scouts in an upcoming swim meet and he even works after school in a hospital as an orderly. But a brief encounter with a new girl at school, Madison (Christensen), is about to change all that...forever.

555 words (Est. Reading Time 2m 46s)
  • ...this teen Fatal Attraction doesn't hold a candle to the original.

Apparently, with all the sequels coming out, people are starting to run out of original plot lines (heck, we’re up to American Wedding (2003)). Now, even the non-sequel films are starting to just be remakes as well. Take Swimfan, for example. If you’ve heard of Fatal Attraction (1987), you know all about this film already. There’s just one twist: the characters are all high schoolers. Could an update to this now classic 80’s film work? I was skeptical, but figured I’d give it a shot.

Last time I’d seen Jesse Bradford was in the teen flicks Bring It On (2000) and Clockstoppers (2002). Having that picture in my mind, it was hard to differentiate the two characters in my mind. Since his acting style just seems to be being himself (what a stretch!), he didn’t make it any easier. If you’ve seen him in one film, that’s pretty much how he’s going to act in any others, no matter what the situation.

It’s a bit disappointing, and puts him on a much lower level than his counterpart, Michael Douglas, from Fatal Attraction (1987). Shiri Appleby, recently of “Roswell” (TV) plays the loving (yet clueless) girlfriend decently, but without much character – but I’m unsure if that is her fault or the film.

Erika Christensen plays the demented love interest character decently, but without much flair. She’s much more straightforward, and less creepy (although more violent) than Glenn Close’s character in “Roswell” (TV). It’s not as interesting to watch, and turns the film a bit more towards horror than thriller.

The plot of Swimfan is way too straightforward, as well. There’s very few twists and turns that are much of a surprise. Maybe the film is aimed at early teens, or something, which could explain this disappointing flaw in the film. Who knows. There aren’t any surprises, and the film becomes quite dull (despite the action) because of it.

The special effects are sparse, as the film tries to rely less on gore and more on “supposed” creepiness, but they do eventually toss in a little gore, and it’s done decently. It’s quick, and doesn’t produce any glaring flaws, so it works well.

The swimming is the major effect, and the underwater cameras and such do a good job of filming and not getting the irritating drops on the lens that sometimes occur in water scenes. One major flaw does occur during a fight in a swimming pool near the end of the film. The fight ends up coming out as two people just pretending to hit each other in the water, while staying afloat (which is what is actually happening), and doesn’t really exude the viciousness the film is trying to portray.

It actually comes off as funny, which does a lot to decrease any tension the film is trying to build during the climatic end sequence.

All in all, even as an update to a film, Swimfan comes off pretty badly. It’s lackluster performances, lack of unique twists and turns (that aren’t broadcast in advance), and inability to heighten dramatic tension throughout the film, not to mention the cheesy fight in the pool, combine to make Swimfan not worth the rental.

The only reason you’ll be a Swimfan is if you’ve been stalked – then you might be able to relate. But I doubt it. Life isn’t this straightforward.

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