IFC’s Swallow: 5 reasons to watch the new arthouse horror film


Swallow is a refreshing feminist body horror film that should resonate with a lot of people. Here are five reasons you shouldn’t miss out.

Haley Bennett truly shines in this chilling, feminist body horror film about a broken housewife living with an unforgiving husband. Swallow is about Hunter (Bennett), a housewife with unresolved trauma who begins to feel as if nothing in her life is under her control, especially when she discovers that she is pregnant.

Hunter is diagnosed with a rare eating disorder called pica, which makes her start eating inanimate objects like pushpins and marbles. Of course, the more Hunter consumes dangerous items, the more her husband’s grip tightens around her, leading her to desperate measures.

If you haven’t heard much about the movie yet, I strongly recommend you look it up and check it out when you get the chance. The following list details five reasons it’s a can’t-miss movie.

5. It has a mostly female crew.

One thing I do appreciate about movies that star women and are primarily focused on a feminist story or a woman’s perspective is when they hire several women to work on the crew. The film’s production designer, cinematographer, and several producers were all women.

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That said, the movie was directed by a man — Carlo Mirabella-Davis, but he based the plot on a real-life experience. Per an interview Mirabella-Davis did with Vice, he explained how he got the idea from his grandmother, who also struggled with pica. He says that his grandmother suffered from quite a bit of gaslighting, the same way Hunter does in the movie.

“I felt that my grandmother’s story could fit into a lot of current issues in a very timely way,” said the director.

4. Haley Bennett is exceptional.

I first took notice of Bennett’s skill as a performer in The Girl on the Train. Since then, she has shown a lot of promise, and Swallow is an excellent way for her to show off her acting skills. She is present in nearly every single moment of the film, almost every frame.

Yet it never seems like she is bored or disengaged. Bennett fully immerses herself in the character of Hunter, and she certainly looks the part, able to navigate between the waif-like “classic 1950s housewife” appearance and a woman with something dark stirring inside with total ease.

Photo Swallow. Image Courtesy IFC Films /

3. It tackles the idea of female autonomy uniquely.

We’ve seen a growing trend in movies about women or films that focus on their stories that dissects the very idea of female autonomy. Women are still fighting to have control over their bodies, even in the year 2020.

I’m not just talking about the undeniable political laws and parallels. Still, for so many years women were treated as objects, and that persists in the modern era, it manifests in less obvious ways, but it is still ever-present.

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I love how Swallow shows Hunter’s battle to figure out where she fits into her life. She slowly begins to realize that she doesn’t like having to live up to her husband’s expectations. No one cares what she thinks. She is spoken over and treated as a wall ornament more than a real person. Her downward spiral and desire to eat inanimate objects is her way of taking back control.

2. The visuals are gorgeous.

One could watch this film twice, first to watch it normally and a second time just to see the incredible cinematography and attention to detail in the production design. I love the way the movie utilized the colors of the surrounding, creating a mixture of the bright colors of the 1950s decorum with minimalism and somber shades of gray and blue.

We had the lucky chance to chat with the production designer of the movie, so stay tuned soon to see what she had to say about her impressive work on Swallow‘s set.

Photo Swallow. Image Courtesy IFC Films /

1. The items Hunter (Bennett) eats in the film are real!

According to an interview with IndieWire, the items that Hunter eats in the movie are very real. We do see her actively consume and swallow them on-camera, but I assumed they were using CGI or clever camera tricks. Instead, Bennett actually ate edible versions of each object.

When asked what they made them out of, Bennett and Mirabella-Davis opted to say mum, saying, “A magician never reveals their tricks.”

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Are you planning to try watching Swallow? What do you think about the storyline? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Swallow is currently playing in a limited amount of theaters.