Sunday, July 17

Fantasia International Film Festival - Swallowed Review


Written/Directed by Carter Smith


SWALLOWED is the first film review I have coming your way from Fantasia International Film Festival. Proclaiming to be “a nightmare of drugs, bugs, and horrific intimacy,” this film is not for the squeamish. 

This body horror tale revolves around two best friends, Benjamin (Cooper Koch) and Dom (Jose Colon) spending their last days together before Benjamin leaves to start his career in L.A. As a last hurrah with a heavy payout, Dom makes a deal to deliver some groundbreaking drugs for his cousin’s girlfriend, Alice (Jena Malone). 

Their intro with Alice doesn’t go well as they discover this new drug entails a unique delivery – swallowing the payload (bugs) and then expelling them, fully intact, from their rectum. With no other options, both swallow the drugs and leave to make their delivery.

Luck is not on their side as a redneck man accuses both Benjamin and Dom of homosexual activities in a rest stop restroom and punches Dom hard in the stomach, causing the drugs to hatch and a spiraling situation to ensue. 

While the first act of this film started off a little cheesy and not quite thoroughly thought out in my opinion, the second and third acts completely redeemed this film and place Carter Smith as a director who’s not afraid to push the limits but also create empathy around tragic characters.

The acting was superb in this film. It’s a small cast but every portrayal with done with the utmost care and attention. The bugs were not at all cheap once they were shown and additionally not the most terrifying part of this film – considering the graphic nature of their delivery.

In fact, the subtle direction they chose to show the bugs expulsion was incredibly nerve wracking yet endearing. 

But it was the growing tension between Benjamin and the head drug boss, played by Mark Patton, that made this film. You can’t pull away from their careful game of cat and mouse that ultimately ends in one of the harshest death scenes I’ve seen to date.

SWALLOWED is unquestionably queer horror. Every character lands somewhere within the LGBTQ+ spectrum and I personally haven't seen representation quite this before. Queer love is definitely the central motivator and SWALLOWED breaks with tradition by providing a final gay boy. 

This was a unique trip and one I will not be able to forget for a long time.

3.5 out of 5.0

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