Shocking body horror Swallow (2019) – a film about control and freedom. The plot analysis and meaning of the film, the explanation of the ending, the essence, similar films.
Genre: thriller, drama
Year of production: 2019
Directed by: Carlo Mirabella-Davies
Actors: Hayley Bennett, Austin Stowell, Denis O’Hare
Slogan: “Open Up”
Swallow is the directorial debut of Carlo Mirabella-Davies. This picture is considered a body horror, but first of all it is still a psychological drama that tells about the monstrous consequences of depreciation and total control.
And if you look deeper, the tape speaks not only about the struggle between the outer and inner worlds and about a rebellion against arbitrariness. The meaning of the film “Swallow” lies, among other things, in criticizing the decayed modern society, which believes that anyone who does not fit into certain frameworks can be easily written off as scrap.
Plot of the film Swallow
Brief description of the content of the film Swallow. In the center of the plot is a young woman named Hunter. She is married to Richie – a handsome young man, the son of very wealthy parents.
The role of Hunter was played by Hayley Bennett. Frame from the film.
One day, she and her husband come to a dinner party with his parents. At the table (to which, by the way, they served a delicious ram – one of the herd that belonged to Richie’s father), the parents praised their son for the success of his company. After the dinner party, Hunter felt for the first time that something was wrong with her.
A few days later, Hunter learns of her pregnancy. But she does not experience any joy. On the contrary, the further, the more she worries. Upon learning that they will have a child, Richie is happy to tell his parents about it. They again invite the guys to dinner and there the husband suddenly invites Hunter to tell “that strange story” from the girl’s distant past. In “that story” there was a certain man, whom Hunter preferred not to remember for many years.
Her husband’s request unwittingly opened an old wound, and Hunter, trying to cope with unwanted memories, became even more worried. At that moment, she really wanted to taste the ice that was in the glass in front of her. And she did it.
Soon, Richie’s mother comes to visit Hunter and brings her a book by Bing Roden, The Ability to Rejoice, as a gift. Having understood the words in his own way that non-standard actions will help to learn to rejoice, Hunter again feels a strong desire to eat something inedible.
A small glass ball catches her eye. The girl swallows it without hesitation and feels much better than before.
Hayley Bennett as Hunter, Austin Stowell as Richie Conrad, Elizabeth Marvel and David Rush as Katherine and Michael Conrad. Frame from the film.
That’s how it all started. Every day, Hunter swallowed some small object and listened to her feelings. From everything she swallowed, which came out naturally, she gathered a kind of collection, which brought her inexpressible pleasure. Gradually, Hunter moved on to swallowing larger and more dangerous objects. Despite the fact that swallowing them caused her great pain, she could no longer stop.
However, her secret is revealed on an ultrasound. Having found foreign objects inside, the doctor decides on urgent hospitalization. Hunter is operated on and several items are retrieved that didn’t come out naturally…
Richie himself and his family accept everything that happened with horror: they need a healthy heir! The husband openly tells Hunter that his psychological problems need to be addressed before starting a family.
At the family council, a decision is made to take the girl to a psychotherapist, who finds out that Hunter is a child born as a result of rape. There is an explanation for swallowing inedible things: it allows her to somehow control her, at first glance, prosperous, but in fact – a routine, unhappy life.
After that, a brilliant idea comes to Richie’s head – to assign a person to Hunter who will make sure that she does not swallow anything else. The man, a former military man, is at first skeptical about Hunter’s problem and believes that she, a rich idler, is trying to find the meaning of life in this way. But he soon develops genuine sympathy for her. It is he who helps the girl escape from the hospital, where the Richie family locks her up after another breakdown.
Swallow Ending explanation
Near the end, Hunter escapes Richie and his family. Before checking into a motel, she collects pockets full of earth and eats it with great pleasure in her room.
She then contacts her mother and tries to get at least some support from her. But the woman is not ready to give it. Then Hunter finds his father and meets with him. He tells her that the only interpretation of his monstrous act many years ago is the desire to be cool.
After serving time, he completely changed. Seeing how his daughter suffers, he is imbued with sympathy for her and convinces her that she can in no way be guilty of what happened. After that, Hunter goes to see a gynecologist. She receives medical abortion drugs from her doctor and takes them.
The meaning of the ending of the film “Swallow” is that Hunter, having finally realized that he wants to escape from his former life, gets rid of the child. After that, she seems to be getting better: she has burned bridges and is ready to move on. Now fully accepting himself and reconciled with the past.
The meaning of the film Swallow
In their analysis, many viewers note that “Swallow” is an unpleasant, shocking film. The only justification for such a concentration of attention on swallowing foreign objects with everything that follows from there is the hidden meaning of this difficult picture.
The essence of the film “Swallow” lies in blatant injustice. It all started with the fact that some villain raped Hunter’s mother, after which she was born. She has always been a trigger for her mother and, apparently, perceived her life as if from the outside. Only after marrying a man who perceived her as an interior element in his luxurious apartment and preparing to become a mother herself, she realized that her life had meaning.
Frame from the film.
This happened against the background of the development of parorexia – an eating disorder in which a person develops an irresistible perverted craving for eating inedible and even dangerous objects.
The director draws a clear parallel between Hunter and the eaten ram. She is the same victim of predators who eat her daily, suppressing her will. Swallowing all sorts of things is a kind of protest against the injustice in which Hunter found herself. Thus, the girl overcomes the role of a weak-willed housewife and gains power over swallowed dangerous objects.
This was led to the complete indifference of relatives, including the closest person, the lack of personal boundaries and being in a golden cage with invisible, but still tangible control. Because it is necessary – it is necessary to fulfill all the conventions adopted in “decent society”.
Hunter is a status wife. She basically means nothing to Richie or his parents. She is an object. And therefore, it cannot claim to be anything more than a beautiful, status, but in fact – the empty life of a thing. It cannot demand understanding and attention. It must fit and only fit.
The essence of Hunter’s protest is to feel the pain. Only she evokes real feelings in her and somehow clears her grief … Hunter knows the story of his birth and even carries a photograph of his mother’s rapist with him. When the doctor, breaking the secret, tells Richie about this, the girl understands that after the birth of the child, she will either be sent to a hospital or thrown out into the street.
Frame from the film.
All her life she felt like an inferior person, a brat, a freak. Above her, like a sword of Damocles, hung the installation: no one owes her anything, but she owes everyone. Because she’s wrong…
It was this unfreedom that tormented her all her life. She could not hear from anyone that she was normal and not guilty of anything. Her freedom is finally given to her by two people – a man who was hired to follow her, and her mother’s rapist, who realized what he had done.
Hunter herself did not seem to realize what she had done by killing her child. However, it was probably not even worth waiting for this from her, a person with a crippled psyche …
The film “Swallow” shows a typical, very fashionable image of an oppressed woman who was born as a result of the violence of a man. Her only path is emancipation. This could be done only through liberation from the complex of someone else’s guilt. Therefore, Hunter goes on a riot and kills his child – the fruit of traditional patriarchal values. According to the creators of the picture, a woman should be free.
Frame from the film.
Here are a few films similar in meaning to the movie Swallow:
- “Not myself” (USA, 2018). Running away from a difficult past, the girl arrives in another city. There she ends up in a psychiatric hospital.
- Gatehouse (USA, Canada, UK, 2019). Once married, Grace becomes a stepmother to her husband’s two children. The guys are not happy about this at all.
- “Interrupted Life” (Germany, USA, 1999). Having survived a terrible shock, Suzanne finds herself in a closed hospital. There she has to deal with the chaos within herself.