While, the world at large, is starting to embrace more female centric stories on the big screen – the horror genre has been doing it for years. Since the 1970s, the horror genre has always had strong females to tell stories through. Whether it is set in the slasher subgenre with Olivia Hussey’s Jess Bradford in Black Christmas or Marilyn Burns’ Sally Hardesty in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Though, it’s not just the slasher genre which has been empowered such feminism. It’s also groundbreaking films like The Last House on the Left or I Spit on Your Grave. Films that explored the darkest possible scenarios with a female and ultimately empowered to exact revenge on her antagonists. While many films have existed in this vain for nearly the past five decades – given the right talent, these films can still have a voice to speak with.
Enter Swing Low. The story focuses on Harper Sykes (Annabelle Dexter-Jones), a nature photographer, who accidentally stumbles and documents some illegal activity. Once she is caught, it’s a race against the clock to escape the clutches of the villainous, Ravener (Robert Longstreet), and his henchman. From the opening frames, the film packs an intensity that comes out swinging hard. Presented in a dual narrative with the current day and the past. The fierce opening quickly fades and starts from the beginning of Sykes’ narrative. As soon as the narrative fades to the beginning, the film quickly slips into a dry coma of little to no dialogue or development. The film stays largely quiet until the story comes full circle and the intensity returns. When the tone is geared for intense, Swing Low is at its’ strongest.
That intensity comes largely in part to Longstreet. Longstreet posses an intense electricity to him that glue your eyes to the screen. Sadly the film chooses to focus more on the henchman around Ravener, rather than the man himself. Thus creating an unfortunate subpar viewing experience. Though perhaps it’s the visual nature and the score that really deserve the spotlight. With cinematography by Christopher Walters and directed by Teddy Grennan – the film is exquisitely shot and directed. When the visual aesthetic of the film is matched with the music by Jacques Brautbar – Swing Low quietly sneaks into your heart and sets up camp. Though, its’ a shame to say that beauty can only carry so far. The visual nature sets up beauty but fails to create substance. Outside of a few moments throughout its’ short, 77 minute duration, Swing unfortunately feels void of emotion.
Overall, Swing Low, is a beautiful viewing experience. Largely thanks to its’ breathtaking cinematography from Christopher Walters and director Teddy Grennan. The film is eloquently shot and delivered. When it is matched with the score of Jacques Brautbar, Swing Low is rich in its’ art. Though that wealth runs out rather quickly. An opening dual narrative of intense proportions quickly slides into a coma and viewers are presented with a dry narrative that dares to focus on the henchman of the villain, rather than the actual villain. Which is a shame because Robert Longstreet’s villainous, Ravener, is one of the strongest parts within the film. Swing Low is all beauty with no personality.
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Credits: Swing Low is property of Cold Beer Friday & Galvanized Films. We do not own nor claim any rights. This is an official selection of Genre Blast Film Festival 2019.