Retro Review: Swimfan

Conceived as a teenage version “Fatal Attraction”, “SwimF@n” has a lot to live up to in suspense and in its shocking deliverance.

Jesse Bradford (Clockstoppers) stars as Ben Cronin, an all-star swimmer who has honed his craft of swimming into an escape from his cluttered and dark past. Ben has a perfect new life which is anchored by his supportive girlfriend, Amy (Shiri Appleby of TV’s Roswell). But just around the corner, Ben’s life will fall into hell.

Ben becomes intoxicated when the new girl at school, Madison Belle (Erika Christensen of “Traffic”), seems to have her eye on him. When Ben gives into this new seduction, he has no idea that this will be his undoing and he will be caught in a cat-and-mouse struggle with the mysterious Madison.

“SwimF@n” starts off quite solid and I was surprised at how involved I got with this story even though I had seen it a millions of times before. I liked the fact that the central male character is flawed and you can understand him better than you would expect.

I also found that the story moved along and the director played with the editing in some scenes which gave you the illusion of “dream-esque” flashes in sequence. I loved that technique.

The biggest problem with “SwimF@n” is that the writers had no idea where to go with the ending. The final 15-20 minutes is so badly sculpted that you leave the film with a sour taste in your mouth.

I would have liked to have seen a twist ending or some clever conclusion for this above average set-up. Instead the film goes into “teen slasher” mode and we have a conclusion eerily similar to the “Michael Myers” or “Jason” movies. You could almost dub it as the “Madison Myers” ending.

I found the performances by Jesse Bradford and Erika Christensen to be as engaging as they needed to be. I have always compared Jesse Bradford to a new “Zach Galligan”. Anybody remember him from “Gremlins”? Actually Galligan did do a thriller similar to “SwimF@n” called “Cupid”.

Christensen’s performance as the stalker got old after a while. The film didn’t support her performance as it continued. The film seemed to implode on itself the crazier she became. In the final scenes, she was almost laughable.

I think if “SwimF@n” would have lived up to its premise and had a “killer” twist ending it could have been a dynamite of a movie. It could have even been dubbed as an “After School Special” on Steroids.

2.5 out of 5

So Says the Soothsayer.

Written: September 15, 2002

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