Movie Reviews: “Swallowed” (Overlook Film Festival) 

June 7, 2022

Written by Joseph Perry

Joseph Perry is the Film Festival Editor for Horror Fuel; all film festival related queries and announcements should be sent to him at [email protected] He is a contributing writer for the "Phantom of the Movies VideoScope" and “Drive-In Asylum” print magazines and the websites Gruesome Magazine, Diabolique Magazine, The Scariest Things, B&S About Movies, and When It Was Cool. He is a co-host of the "Uphill Both Ways" pop culture nostalgia podcast and also writes for its website. Joseph occasionally proudly co-writes articles with his son Cohen Perry, who is a film critic in his own right. A former northern Californian and Oregonian, Joseph has been teaching, writing, and living in South Korea since 2008.

LGBTQ horror is having a strong year, from the film festival success of Hypochondriac to the upcoming Kevin Bacon vehicle They/Them to the resurrected release this month of the 2010 cult film All About Evil. Writer/director Carter Smith (The Ruins) delivers a squirm-inducing entry into the subgenre with Swallowed, which uses both body horror and survival horror in its nerve-wracking tale of plans gone awry among two friends. 

Benjamin (Cooper Koch) is celebrating his last night in town before moving to Los Angeles to become a gay porn actor. His straight best friend Dom (Jose Colon) is concerned about Benjamin’s future, so he has a plan to make some fast cash for his buddy. What Dom believes is a simple drug run turns out to be much worse than that, as the pair are held at gunpoint by deal go-between Alice (Jena Malone) and forced to swallow bags of illicit goods. When they go to a specified rest stop to eliminate the bags, things go horribly awry, including Dom eliminating one that seems to be moving.

That’s not the worst of it, though, as Dom is getting sicker by the moment, and Alice brings the pair to the remote home of the dealer kingpin (Mark Patton of A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge; Scream, Queen! My Nightmare on Elm Street, and Family Possessions). It is at this location that the story takes a couple of somewhat convenient turns as it takes a tonal shift from body horror to survival horror, with the thriller elements of the first act now having given way full-on into sexual predator territory. 

Koch and Colon give fine performances in their set-up as long-time friends, then Malone bursts onto the scene in a fiery performance before Patton arrives with a scene-stealing performance as a decidedly creepy villain. Koch and Patton play off each other splendidly, with the former giving a protagonist performance in which viewers can easily get invested.

There’s plenty of fright fare on tap, though little blood. Not to worry, though, as Smith serves up body horror scenes not for the squeamish and plenty of suspense to keep viewers glued to the screen.

Swallowed screened as part of Overlook Film Festival, which took place June 2–5, 2022 in New Orleans. 



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