Carlo Mirabella-Davis’ film Swallow stars Haley Bennett as Hunter, a housewife distraught by her recent pregnancy who develops pica, an eating disorder that makes her crave objects that could potentially jeopardise her life. From the beginning of the film, it is clear that Hunter has no autonomy. Her husband, Richie (Austin Stowell), and his parents Katherine (Elizabeth Marvel) and Michael (David Rasche) have complete hold over her.

Through tears, Hunter smiles triumphantly as she chokes down these objects, finally feeling like she is in control of her body. When Richie and his parents find out, they force her to attend therapy sessions. It’s while she’s in therapy that Hunter reveals a secret from her past that’s supposed to serve as the possible explanation for her disorder. 

Haley Bennett’s lead performance as Hunter may be her best performance yet. At the start of Swallow, Hunter is defined by traditional gender roles, but she never makes the character feel one-dimensional. The way Bennett portrays Hunter slowly regaining her agency in the only way she knows how to is masterfully done. However, it is the fault of the material that leads the film to ultimately fall a little flat.

Swallow has a premise that may deter some squeamish viewers – however, it is not quite as gruesome as you would imagine. The purpose of the film is to focus on Hunter’s journey as she breaks free from the oppressive, patriarchal system she is in and regain control over her body, rather than her obsessive behaviour.

The vague explanation given about Hunter’s past is not enough to justify the climax, in the end it feels a little empty rather than emotional. The daring final scene of Swallow is, however, the best part, and that risk-taking should have been utilised throughout the entire film.



CAST: Haley Bennett, Austin Stowell, Elizabeth Marvel, David Rasche, Denis O’Hare 

DIRECTOR: Carlo Mirabella-Davis

WRITER: Carlo Mirabella-Davis

SYNOPSIS: A housewife develops pica, an eating disorder that makes her crave dangerous objects, after recently finding out she is pregnant.